Aug 10, 2011

A mind ravaged

"O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!", Shakespeare in Hamlet.

If my memory is correct, I do not think Shakespeare was referring to dementia in the above quote, but the line strikes me as reflective of what happens in dementia.  A good reliable mind is o'erthrown.  Characteristics that we used to be able to count on as part of the essence of who the person is are no longer reliable.  Truthtellers become people one cannot believe.  People with motivation become apathetic.  Not only is the mind, as we think of it, o'erthrown, but the entire personality.  A good friend told me that the person for whom I provide care would become more gentle.  Not so.  I think it is not safe to predict how anyone with dementia will change; but change they will.  We no longer can relate to husband, wife, parent, friend -- that person is no longer really there.  The person who remains is one who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but let us not kid ourselves:  it is not the same person we once related to.  Therefore, it is important for us not to expect the same person.  What can we value in the "new" person for whom we provide care?

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