When mom was living with dementia, she often became fixed on a topic and was very repetitive. In other words, there was perseveration. Sometimes as Caregivers we need to take a step back, reflect, and gain perspective as to the meaning behind the behaviour. This will guide our own response to the situation, so both of us can move forward at that moment.
Here are my thoughts about this topic...
Forgive if I perseverate, replicate, and duplicate,
So if you see me hesitate, trepidate, or contemplate,
I may just need to concentrate, recalculate, recalibrate,
I need you to facilitate, de-escalate, anticipate,
My wish is to articulate, communicate, or just relate,
So why the odd syntax? Just a small way to reinforce the meaning of perseveration.
What is perseveration? When individuals are living with dementia they may exhibit repetition in speech or behaviours. Almost like getting ”stuck” in the moment.
So how can we help:
- A positive strategy is to think about the cause of the behaviour; perhaps there is anxiety, fear, or stressors such as an unmet need. (Think about the basics: like hunger, thirst, finding a bathroom etc.) Is there something else in the environment that has triggered this response?
- Meaningful activities are a great way to help the individual living with dementia find a source of purpose, a means of contribution, and an opportunity to refocus their thoughts. Meaningful activities provide distraction and/or diversion. (check out my blog: http://www.elderpilot.com/site/blog/2014/08/21/meaningful-activities-time-well-spent-for-both-the-participant-and-the-helper)
- Think about ways to refocus and redirect the individual living with dementia to move forward from this stalled thought. Examples: "Let's have a snack." "Look at this lovely photograph."
- Addressing the meaning behind the words may enhance self -expression. If someone asks to go home several times, a suggested response may be, “Tell me about your home…” This may help the conversation move forward, as the anxiety has been addressed by encouraging further discussion.
Mom often got stuck in the moment, or on a thought.
As I reflect back now, I have gained greater insight into the anxiety that she must have been experiencing during those times.
Remember, sometimes the key to our response is mirrored in the words themselves.