Saturday, October 05, 2019

Slippage

Brain Disease.
Doctors call it Alzheimers or Dementia.
It is a brain disease.

The brain is a functional organ that is the hard drive for our bodies.
When the brain misfires it begins to have Bad Sectors and cannot be rebooted or reset. Portions of memory files are misplaced or become corrupt and lost in in the recycle bin to be lost forever. The brain slips a bit like a vinyl record with a bad scratch. It is not fixable. Files keep slipping away and taking memories with them.
The brain eventually forgets how to tell the rest of the body how to function.  The 'hard drive' begins to have terrible issues as time moves on, more functions are lost.

Well at least this is how I have come to understand Dementia. I decided that since I have to live with that ugly word, I would make it less ugly and call it Brain Slippage.
I've had to explain my MIL's condition more than once to a relative. The best thing I could come up with has been the analogy to the computer's hard drive and system of files.

Once the computer's hard drive is so full of gaps and holes, the rest of the functions no longer work.

I just finished reading The Last Ocean, A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting by Nicci Gerrard.

If you have an aging partner or parent, it is a worthy read. We can never truly understand how memories and the brain function, but the author show us how compassion and caring are so important. How we should not let those with Slippage become unseen and forgotten people.

Are we truly made up of our memories? What happens when those memories are no longer? Are we then something or someone else? What defines us?

These are questions the author asks us.

When I visit with my MIL. I see slippage. What was reality a year ago or even just months ago is no longer. She has lost 10 years of memories which is fine because she is perfectly happy recalling her house on the ridge and not the apartment she moved into.
Will she recall her great grandchildren? Probably as they are something that may be more important in her file system.
She knows me and sometimes I am younger in her mind and sometimes I am in the present.

Does it matter to her? No, she is perfectly happy or so she thinks. She asked me to show her a photo of the building she used to live in. She said someone told her she used to live there. I brought it up on my phone and showed it to her.
She shook her head.

Nope. She couldn't picture it at all. Couldn't recall what the apartment looked like either.
But the house on the ridge, do you recall that?

Oh yes!
I asked if it bothered her at all not recalling the apartment. And she looked me straight in the eye and asked me:

Why would it?

Indeed.
Don't try to convince her that she HAS to remember. That is such a big mistake with those that have slippage. Don't force what they cannot recall.

Trying to make her recall things that have drifted away is only an irritant. It does nothing to make her day happier.
Bingo makes her happy.
Painting class makes her happy.
Meals make her happy.

Visits from loved ones make her whole world. It brightens the day by day routine of eat, sleep, nap, get wheeled somewhere, and look out a window or stare at a wall.

I don't mind it when she falls asleep while I am visiting. I sometimes hold her hand just to be with her. Sometimes I wait for a while and then give her a hug and leave.
She loves hugs.

One day her memory of me may slip into the recycle bin and be lost.

4 comments:

  1. Slippage is a good word. My Dad sometimes calls me Anna *his sister) and sometimes he calls her Connie...but he loves us both and I am ok with that. Lately he gets frustrated if he cannot recall something...he takes memory pills and most days he is happy going to Bingo watching old westerns and ball games on TV and working in the yard. I never correct him I just go with the flow:)

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    1. Exactly! Going with the flow is good.

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  2. My mother-in-law has slippage. I don't live nearby, so I don't deal with it. I haven't seen her in years. But I'm told she still talks about me. They tell me she misses me, so I send her cards and small gifts. I think it's sad that she has lost so much. She was so intelligent and funny. But mostly I worry about my ex-husband. He's showing the early signs of it and he has no one who will care for him the way his mother is being cared for.

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    1. Yes my MIL talks about her sisters in vague time frames or time frames I don't know as they were years ago, but I let her tell me what is on her mind.
      I hope someone can get your ex some help and he won't fall through the cracks.

      I spend quite a bit of time at the NH and enjoy the company of everyone she eats midday meals with and I am enough of a regular that everyone wants to visit and tell me their stories. I don't know if what they are telling me is a memory or not, but I can guess generally.

      Thank you for stopping by Lisa.

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