Even the simplest of conversations can go awry, especially with a dementia sufferer (DS). You express a benign opinion about the front grill of a certain model of car; he takes offense. You make a comment about a popular actor on a television show; he disagrees with you vehemently. You don’t answer what you perceive may be a loaded question. Bad. You answer a question with the wrong tone in your voice because you were involved in doing something else or have already answered the same question three times. That’s worse. You don’t answer a question at all because you were in the laundry room with both the washer and dryer going and didn’t hear. Now you have a real problem on your hands. Often after five minutes of conversation, he can’t remember what you were talking about in the first place. Talking about almost anything can lead to frustration all the way around.
Let’s say you do make it through a serious conversation with your DS and you reach a decision about an action you both want to take in the future. The next time that topic is brought up he won’t recall the decision you both made. Worse, he will accuse you of implementing it when he says he never agreed to the decision. Even a completed conversation can go wrong.
The conversational merry-go-rounds with a DS are not easy and they won’t get easier. Except for an occasional mysterious day when he remembers everything, talking with a DS is like riding a Tilt-A-Whirl at full speed, frontwards and backwards. You don’t know which way to lean next. You don’t know when it is going to stop. You only know that it goes in circles…inside other circles. Dizzying and sometimes sickening circles.