I've been doing some hospice volunteering recently. One of my patients is a sweet lady in her eighties with dementia and other ailments. She will respond to my efforts at conversation with word salad, rarely speaking in complete sentences or making any sense. She will smile and laugh at my jokes so it seems there may be some level of comprehension, but I'm wondering how much is getting through and if the correct phrase or response is in her brain and she has just lost the ability to find the right words in response. I'd like to find some way to communicate with her but she may be too impaired. I don't know. Any thoughts out there?
I wish you much success in your work. It's very commendable of you. I'm also sure that this women is grateful for your time even if she can't convey that to you.
I admire your volunteer work and being so caring.
If you want to see "what going on in there", I think the closest thing are the videos or demonstrations of brain synapses and neurological disconnection. This is a pretty good, basic and understandable place to start:
If you've ever done any electrical work, think of a system of wires in which some of the wires break, severing the connection to other wires. Imagine that many of the wires have broken, and the electrical signals can't be transmitted.
That's a good example of the videos I've seen on the synaptic interruption that occurs in the brain.
Those in the more advanced stages not only had difficulty remembering what the instruction was, but had difficulty determining how to get the meat and bread out from their wrappers, etc. Using a knife to apply the condiments was also problematic.
Some of us were close to tears at that point. It was a sobering and frightening insight into how dementia can rob people of their cognitive abilities.
I think your patient probably doesn't understand what you're saying but is a very gracious and happy person who is responding in the only way she can. It may be that just the sound of your voice and your presence are stimulative for her, even if she's unable to cognitively communicate.
And kudos to you for your volunteer work; that must be very challenging but rewarding.
With modern science you'd think doctors could trace how one is thinking depending on what stage they are in.
Windyridge, how nice that you do volunteer work, it's a good feeling helping out :)