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Dementia & the Christmas Tree

(10 Posts)
Granny23 Wed 05-Dec-18 15:07:30

I have copied this over from Talking Point (the Alzheimers Discussion Web site because I thought it was lovely, though it does not cover all the things that go awry when Dementia invades a brain ( e.g. being unable to follow the steps to make a cup of tea, or select and put on clothes)

^Dementia And The Christmas Tree
By Norrms McNamara

I am often asked “What, in layman’s terms, is Dementia?” and I often answer it this way, especially at this time of year.
If you can imagine a Christmas tree, absolutely dripping with lights that shine as bright as you have ever seen. Have you ever wondered of the beauty of it and how it shines those lights of hope all around the world?
Then, if you imagine that every one of those wonderful lights are your life’s memories which can be seen (remembered) at any time. Then all of a sudden, one by one, those lights go out. Slowly but surely they start to diminish until they are gone forever, never to return, all memories of loved ones, family and life’s experiences just disappear until the final one folds into darkness and we all know, unless they find a cure what this means.
This is how I explain, in Layman’s terms what Dementia is, BUT!! And as you know by now there is always a but with me LOL!!
If sometimes, you give that Christmas tree a bit of a nudge!! (And I do not in any way condone shaking anyone with Dementia!!LOL) but, if you include and Engage with people who have this awful disease, sometimes, just sometimes these wonderful lights come back on, if only for a second, a few minutes or permanently, it doesn’t matter, the point is they have come back on and that memory has returned, for no matter how long.
I hope this helps and will help people in the future to try and explain what Dementia is, especially around this time of year.^

Cherrytree59 Wed 05-Dec-18 15:26:31

Sums it up nicely Granny23

Sometimes when the lights are out or dim, someone or something flicks a little switch and for a short time there is a little glimmer, it never fails to give me hope
(I should know better by now!) but then all too quickly the curtain comes down.sad

All we can do is gently walk along the road beside them.

kittylester Wed 05-Dec-18 16:14:23

We use that analogy on the Carers courses g23 - it's very apt.

Caledonai14 Wed 05-Dec-18 17:23:59

Thank you Granny 23 and Cherrytree59. Beautiful analogy.

This might be the correct place to start mentioning one of the upcoming free courses on Futurelearn in the new year.

Creating Moments of Joy For People With Alzheimer's starts at the end of January.

There are other universities offering free courses on aspects of dementia, on Futurelearn, but that one looks like a good place to start.

Willow500 Wed 05-Dec-18 17:48:59

Beautifully thought provoking and sums up losing loved ones slowly but surely over time until the lights have gone out completely. It's heartbreaking when the nudging provokes nothing sad

Witzend Sat 08-Dec-18 21:02:23

A good explanation.
I also like the 'bookshelves' analogy.
Memories are like books in a bookcase with a lot of shelves.
The newest memories are at the top, the oldest at the bottom.
One by one, these 'shelves of memories' are swept away - the newest at the top first, until only the oldest are left, and eventually even these are gone.

ninathenana Sat 08-Dec-18 23:28:31

Glad to see Norrms is still posting. I used to really enjoy reading his posts when I was a member of Talking Point.

It's a great forum by the way. I found it really useful when caring for mum.

kittylester Sun 09-Dec-18 11:18:51

There are two bookcases though witzend - the other is sturdier and contains the emotional memories. They last far longer. That's why it is worth giving people with dementia happy times. They may not remember the event but the feeling it engenders can last a few days. And, of course, the converse is true.

silverlining48 Sun 09-Dec-18 13:03:29

My mum died nearly 6 years ago after 10 years with dementia. It’s really hard for everyone, I ended up on medication.
I found Physical touch. Quiet voices, reassurance, never disagreeing or correcting. Looking at old photos, reading poetry, or a story,
listening to music and singing together, a hand massage, nail painting I found it all helped.
Wishing those of you who are coping with this cruel and so distressing illness a happy and peaceful christmas. Take time for yourself if you can. Do not berate yourself you are doing the best you can. X

Izabella Sun 09-Dec-18 16:14:21

What a wonderful description.