The admiral nurse pointed this out to me and it fits in so well with the person-centred approach to dementia. She was responding to my saying that S’s ‘conversations’ with the people she imagines are now quite often calm and cheerful. So why should we say she is ‘suffering’ from dementia? Of course when she is agitated and distressed this is upsetting for people who hear her, including me though you would think I’d be used to it by now – I regularly hear the word ‘nothing’ repeated over and over again in a devastated tone before we’ve even had breakfast – it’s like being caught up the last act of King Lear. But even this, as the AN suggested, could just be a way of dealing with stress. It’s certainly nice when it stops!

So if there were a way of stopping these conversations with medication – there isn’t* – it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. And I’ll have to find another way of explaining S’s condition when an explanation is necessary.

*One of the many things that amazes me about the primitive nature of the research into, and knowledge about, the condition is that very little attention seems to have been paid to trying to understand the ‘meaning’ of these conversations. It’s usually noted, in passing, that auditory hallucinations in Alzheimer’s and other dementias is rare – and that’s it. Yet as I’ve explained before, they usually sound like ‘real’ conversations – even though nonsense words and phrases are thrown in seemingly at random – and can be linguistically quite complex. You would have though that any researcher with an ounce of curiosity would want to find out more about them. I suspect, if questioned, the professionals would say that it was just the neurons, tangles, plaque etc. But they don’t talk, it’s a person talking, often about events and issues that they have clearly experienced during their life.

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My wife has a 'condition'. Many people who have to have labels would say she has dementia. She first attended a memory clinic in 2000, aged 52, and has suffered a marked decline recently. We have been trying to follow the advice of our Guru: 'Live a Good Life'. It's not easy but there doesn't seem to be any better advice around. I found myself saying to a friend that I would find my wife's condition very interesting if I wasn't so involved. I've realised now that I do find it, and the issues it raises, interesting. And that there's nothing wrong with that. It's one of the things that keeps me going. Not that I have any choice. I think more and more that I'm a very rational person (though I'm not claiming that I always behave rationally). I have to try and make sense of things. In my current situation, this is quite a challenge. We all need challenges, they say. I'm hoping this blog might help me, and maybe others, in some way. If I'm wrong, it won't last very long.

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