by KT Leong
The Bougainvillea City Dementia Cafe (BCDC) held their monthly meeting for September last Tuesday at 1 Lasam.
This meeting was special as the guest speaker, Sharifah Tahir, a care partner of 9 years as well as a Teepa Snow Positive Approach to Care (PAC) certified independent advance consultant and trainer, came to the meeting from Kuala Lumpur via online video conferencing. This was an exciting development as it’s a pioneering step in opening up a whole world of possibilities for dementia support.
Returning to offer his support as well as his technical expertise was certified Teepa Snow trainer, Calvin Chong, a psychologist of over 6 years in dementia care with PAC.
After some initial technical issues and breaking the ice, Sharifah was able to foster a sharing atmosphere where participants shared the challenges they faced and what helped in overcoming those challenges. Such as using the rhythm and connections of music to make daily tasks run more smoothly or to remember long forgotten memories.
But nothing is one size fits all as there was a participant whose mother did not enjoy the use of music. While most people have fond memories related to music, some others don’t. The key was to find something that the person living with dementia likes.
With her 9 years of experience as well as training from Teepa Snow PAC, Sharifah was able to share and discuss how to better care for those living with dementia. She showed scans of the brains of people with dementia in comparison with those who don’t, and explained the reason why those living with dementia react the way they do. For instance, their ability to comprehend is lessened due to dementia, as every fourth or fifth word in a sentence tends to be lost to them. This means that to them, long sentences sound like disjointed messages.
Having said that, their hearing is still fine. However, when someone is dealing with a person living with dementia feels that what they’re saying is not getting through, the natural thing to do is to increase the volume of their voice. However, the volume is not the issue, it is the comprehension. Raising one’s voice merely increases the frustration and anger of both parties.
So how can this be overcome? Well, if every fourth or fifth word in a sentence is lost, then just use shorter sentences. Instead of saying “Let’s go to the supermarket in the city centre to buy some fish”, which may sound like “Let’s go to the —- in the city —- to buy some —-” to someone living with dementia, you could simply say “Let’s go supermarket” or “Buy fish at supermarket”. Keep it short and simple.
The meeting this time was interactive and educational and as more participants become regulars, it becomes more and more of a social outlet for those sharing the same kind of challenges.
The October BCDC meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 17 and will discuss the legal issues of dealing with dementia. In particular, the writing of a will, while those diagnosed with dementia are still of sound mind, in order to avoid any inheritance issues down the road. Stay tuned to Ipoh Echo to get a head’s up on this important issue.