If I were suffering from dementia, here is what I think I would tell you…
Don’t ignore me. I see you. I may not always understand your words or remember who you are but I see you. I already feel marginalized by my disease. Don’t make me feel more so by ignoring me. Don’t talk to the person right next to me but act as if I’m not there. All it takes is to look me in the eyes and smile. Now I know you see me.
Don’t talk loud to me. I hear just fine. I just don’t always understand.
Be patient with me. When I can’t get my words out, let me try unless I have indicated that I want your help finding the missing word/s. Watch my face for cues. Am I frustrated and looking at you like I need help? Then help me. Otherwise, it helps me to find the words myself as much as I can.
If I have told you this story already, just listen again. I’m sorry I can’t remember.
If you need me to do something, tell me in one step instructions. I can’t remember multiple steps anymore.
When I walk, I shuffle. That is normal for me. Don’t hurry me unless there is a bear after me. I walk slow. Part of the disease and part of aging.
Sometimes I pick at things, especially cords. I don’t know why. I just do. Just let me pick unless I will hurt myself or someone else. I love to look at things. Just let me look.
I still love to listen to people and when feeling accepted and comfortable will talk as well. Ask me questions and I will try to answer you as best I can. But when I get tired, my brain struggles more and then I will need extra patience.
I am still the same person I always was. I still have family I love very much who love me. My memories are there. I know a lot of people. Sometimes, I just can’t bring their names out. It’s not that I have completely forgotten you. Don’t feel bad. You are in my heart even if I can’t remember you or your name right this moment. I still love!
The more normal people treat me, the more normal I feel.
Thank you for hearing me.