In the course of these outings, we naturally came across folks who didn’t know that she had dementia. Since Mama was very social and friendly, she would often initiate a conversation with someone. It usually didn’t take too long before the other person would begin to suspect that the nice lady they were chatting with was not functioning at 100 %. Sometimes it was a bit of a dilemma; we didn’t want to dishonor Mama by talking about her as if she wasn’t there, but at the same time, we needed to clue them into what was going on.
We would try to catch the person’s eye and mouth the word ‘dementia’. A puzzled expression was quickly replaced by a smile and nod as understanding dawned.
A couple of recent articles has proposed excellent solutions for those ‘awkward moments’.
The first one tells about a using a card the size of a business card to relay the information: New ‘purple card’ system would help people with dementia
Madeleine Fraley’s husband has dementia, so she created a simple card explaining the situation that she could discretely hand to someone. The purple-hued card states, “My companion has memory problems. Please be patient. Thank you!”
What a brilliant idea! That would have been quite useful to have on our outings.
The other clever idea is really more for a hospital or medical situation. They are using butterflies to help identify patients who are suffering from dementia. The butterfly symbol is stamped on everything associated with the patient. Staff is trained to keep an eye out for the symbol so they can support and treat the patients appropriately.
Francesca Hall, the hospital’s dementia champion states, “It’s vital that people know that a patient has dementia so they can treat and support that person appropriately to ensure the best care possible.”
The important thing here is to keep your loved one as active and social as possible while continuing to treat them with dignity and honor.