Nov 4th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Effects of Cognitive Impairment

There is no “joy in Mudville,” as memory and brain activity begin to decline and fade.  Aging and cognitive impairment is an experience, increasingly made real, prompted as more and more of us grow older, but our mind doesn’t keep up. Oh, were it so that deterioration of mind and body weren’t so often so dramatic and difficult.  For some, who sustain their cognitive abilities, it isn’t.  They are able to keep relating, remembering, interacting in healthy and rational ways.  For others, there comes a void that removes the vitality and vigor making for a sadness and a deep chasm, difficult to bridge.

As time takes its toll, there are some hints at what can be attempted to keep the communication lines somewhat open.  Above all, patience and kindness are among the two most necessary and persistent of behaviors to contribute to as much interrelationship as can be enjoyed and achieved.

Attempting to reason will often result in discouragement and frustration.  Going along with the cognitive skills still left will require pretending that this is the new normal. It is really more than pretense, because it really is the new normal for your loved one.  Reversing the behavior is unlikely.  Getting occasional glimpses of the person she/he used to be will likely be the best there is.  Eventually, if/as the condition worsens, there will be less and less to enjoy or to find common ground regarding.

The Alzheimers’ Thievery

Sometime ago, a life long friend and I journeyed to visit a mutual friend with whom we had gone to school together since childhood.  She was in what is now called a “memory” care center.  We made the hour’s trip in the hope that some cognitive recognition could be enjoyed.  There was none.  Everything in her life had been locked out.  There was no glimmer of recognition, no word spoken, no flicker of recall, nothing.  Our being there, so far as we could detect, made no difference at all, except to us.  It was a deeply sad moment.  Our friend was almost literally “no more.”  She had slipped into that dark and silent world of the last stages of Alzheimers.

No matter what we may have tried, there was no retrieving her.  Reality was defined differently for her now.  And we could not be a part of it.

The futility of such a visit suggests that there may be no reason to even initiate such a call.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  For, doing so may mean more to the family and to you than anyone can assess. It may open our own eyes to be aware that lack of human interaction, while absent, may be replaced by some unknown stirrings that cannot be consciously plumbed.

So long as communication can be enjoyed, be sure to encourage it.  Whatever conversational topics are brought up, chase them until there is no more energy.  Whatever means for connecting, keep encouraging.  Don’t give up.

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