By Rick Phelps
Time. Your loved one probably has a very hard time with time. You see, when you have dementia, you are no longer able to negotiate time.
Ten minutes can seem like an hour. A day can seem like a week. And looking at a clock, well, for me, is a waste of time.
To be able to understand time, you have to have a point of reference. It's like traveling on vacation and relying on those things we used to use called road maps.
To use a road map, no matter how well you are schooled on them, you must have a reference point. You have to know where you are in order to figure out where you want to be.
Time is the same way. There has to be something you can reference to know what time it is.
When The Ellen Show comes on TV, you know it's time to get ready to get your kids at school.
When your alarm goes off in the mornings, you know you can lay there for an extra ten or fifteen minutes and still be on time.
Days for a dementia patient run together. We can't tell one from the other. Most people know when it is Monday because yesterday you went to church, had a wonderful time with your family, or just laid around and did nothing.
Plus, it's the beginning of the work week. With dementia, there are no yesterdays. I have no idea what I had to eat for dinner last night, let alone the ability to tell someone what day it is.
The mind is a terrible thing to lose. And way before the end stage, we patients lose track of time simply because we no longer have a reference point.
Think about that. Very few people think about time, because it is always in the back of their mind. But imagine for a bit, you have no idea what day it is, what you did yesterday, or what you are supposed to do today.
That is how this disease works, and it's just one of the issues a patient deals with every day, all day long.
I do remember parts of yesterday, but only because something terrible happened.
Our granddaughter stayed with us the night before. As usual, I was up very early and got Phyllis June up later for work.
We sat here at the dining room table and had our coffee and tea just like we do every day. When it was time for Phyllis to leave for work, she told me, “Don’t forget to get Cortney up for school.”
I was supposed to wake her up at 7:45. At about 8:30, for whatever reason, it hit me. I had forgotten she had even stayed with us in just that short period of time.
Some will say, "I have done that” ...but the reality is we patients do these things all the time. It's just one thing after another. And it always involves forgetting something or someone.
Time. It's the one thing you lose as a patient. Time. It's the one thing we all want more of. Time. It is indeed our enemy...