Topic: ‘WANDERING IN DEMENTIA- A group discussion’ followed by NEW YEAR 2017 CELEBRATIONS
Facilitators: Saadiya Hurzuk, Psychologist, ARDSI- Hyderabad Deccan
Amulya Rajan, Psychologist, ARDSI- Hyderabad Deccan
Date: 31st December, 2016
Place: Zeba Bashiruddin Centre for Healthy Ageing- ARSDI-Hyderabad Deccan activity centre
- A total of around 35 participants including dementia caregivers, ARDSI- Hyderabad Deccan staff and people with dementia were present.
- The facilitators introduced the group to the topic briefly telling them about how wandering occurs in different stages of dementia. The frequency of wandering, the time at which the person tends to wander, and their reasons for wandering- (for example because they feel somebody is calling their name versus just wanting to go from one room to the other), all differ from one stage of the disease to another, as well as from one individual to another. Hence it was concluded that while some broad guidelines could be followed to reduce wandering, each situation might demand it’s own ingenuous solution.
- The caregivers were encouraged to share their experiences. Caregivers spoke of the challenges faced due to uncontrollable wandering in people with dementia at different times of the day. Caregiver stress caused due to wandering and resultant falls and injuries were addressed.
- The increase in this symptom particularly after 3-4pm known as ‘sundowning’ effect which several caregivers had noticed in their loved ones was discussed.
- Facilitators spoke of different unique solutions that could be devised for the issue of wandering like diverting the person with different activities to reduce the restlessness; or taking them for a short stroll or drive and bringing them back home once the restlessness has subsided; covering windows and doors with curtains so that they are not obvious to the person with dementia; ensuring they are accompanied by someone while walking around to reduce falls and injuries.
- The importance for the caregiver to understand that wandering is simply a symptom of dementia which is not being done on purpose by the person with dementia was stressed. Caregivers spoke of how it was less stressful for them to handle the restlessness once they had come to accept this.
- A unique perspective by a participant in early stages of dementia was offered as he openly spoke of his own experiences since the onset of the disease. He spoke about his momentary lapses of judgement with routes and directions when travelling even in familiar places and how therefore he had stopped driving and hired a driver. He was advised by the facilitators to always carry his address and emergency contact details with him when he steps out of his house, keeping them either in his wallet or on his phone or attached to some other article that he is bound to definitely carry along with him.
- Further the discussion transgressed into other areas of dementia like how much activity is good for someone with dementia. The person with dementia queried about whether he should continue to give lectures the way he used to even though it caused him a lot more stress than earlier and though he found it hard to remember everything the way he once could. He was advised to reduce the number of lectures and the amount of time he spent on each lecture, without actually stopping giving them altogether. Overall it was stressed that while everyday activities should be continued as far as possible without undue stress to the person, stopping them altogether is in no way beneficial.
- Further the difference between forgetting that comes with normal ageing and with dementia were elaborated upon. The person with dementia was asked to reduce his own lofty expectations of himself which were based on his excellent past achievements, which would in turn help him be less stressed about not being able to perform like earlier. On this note the session was concluded.
- The caregiver session was followed by a New Year party to usher in the year 2017. The inhouse music therapist Ms Nina Cherla along with a couple of her colleagues sang various songs to the tune of a guitar and other unique musical instruments. The gathered participants joined in with gusto, some singing along and some helping with the instruments. Songs were sung in various languages including Hindi, English, Spanish, and other European languages and some were accompanied by impromptu jigs.
- Cakes that were brought by a caregiver were cut by caregivers and distributed along with various other snacks and tea.
- The inhouse music therapist was felicitated with a small gift and a bouquet with much gratitude from the group and the staff of ARDSI-Hyderabad Deccan for her involvement and service over the last three months.