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Emma: Our Journey With Dementia

I am still visiting my lovely Emma, and our journey down the path of dementia together has slowly progressed since my last blog. It is difficult for Emma to speak or to understand long sentences, she has become very frail, and she has lessening awareness of her surroundings. She seems to look at and talk to people that are not there and can easily become confused; it must be quite unsettling and scary for her at times.

On one such occasion, I found Emma attempting to get out of bed. Even though very frail, she had summoned the strength to swing her legs over the raised sides, but could not muster enough strength to get up. I quickly raised the alarm as I was afraid that she would fall out of bed. Two carers came to move Emma back into bed. Even though they were very kind and gentle, Emma did not appreciate their assistance and very quickly shared her thoughts with them, becoming quite cross. The carers smiled and left us to our visit.

Emma was still expressing her displeasure, so I decided to approach her a different way. Clearly, she had been very intent on getting out of bed, which must have taken a lot of effort and determination, and this indicated to me that it was obviously important to her, so I asked:

“Where are you off to in a hurry, Emma?”

“I am late for school,” she replied sharply.

This made complete sense of her desire to get out of bed and her frustration about being put back in again! Now I understood.

On the day of my visit, it happened to be half term, so I decided to use this information to our advantage. “It’s half term this week, Emma. You don’t have to go in today,” I informed her.

Emma calmed a little but still seemed a little tense, so I went on to reassure her about it being half term and said that it was why I was visiting her. This seemed to put her more at ease.

Emma loves birds. I had brought in a little plush toy blue tit – her favourite British bird. When you squeezed it, it chirped and sang. Emma cupped the little bird in her hands, so gently and carefully, as if it were real. She kissed its little beak and smiled with tears in her eyes. Emma brought the bird up to her face again and felt its beak with her nose, which made her chuckle. We stroked its feathers and we spoke about how soft they were. It tweeted away while in her hands, which she absolutely loved! She laughed with her infectious laugh that she has.

“Thank you, Paul,” she said, looking at me.

I knew Paul was her brother. I did not correct her but smiled and stroked her hair and told her how lovely she looked today. Emma giggled and beamed a beautiful smile. Then we both giggled together, and she held my hand and waved it, which we do when we are both sharing a joke together and which always makes us laugh more, as we are both recognising that we are sharing this moment together. The gift of laughter is always priceless!

If you’d like to read more about Carrie’s visits to Emma, you can read ‘Writing To Emma During The Pandemic’, ‘Revisiting Emma’ and ‘Helping Restore Emma’s Calm’.

Or, if you’d like to talk to us about arranging a Creative Companion to visit you or a loved one, just call us on 01303 764576 or get in touch via our website.

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