Yesterday I visited someone an hour away from my home. He had been in a wreck and broken his back. Two weeks earlier, his wife told a neurologist that she was concerned that her husband might have dementia. The neurologist told her that he did not have dementia.
Two weeks later, he was admitted to the hospital with a broken back. To days after admission, he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. His wife called to inform me. She called me back eight days after he was admitted to the hospital to tell me that things were not going well. It was very evident that she was stressed and did not know what to do. I realized that because of how Judy and I after my diagnosis. I asked her if she would allow me to come the next day and be her advocate. She accepted.
As my wife drove me to the hospital, I prayed that God will provide ALL the resources that I needed to abate any possible triggers that might cause me to have an emotional outburst. I prayed that He would keep me calm and focused. I prayed that He would provide at least one physician for me to talk with and many allied professionals. I told Him that I was giving Him ALL Praise, Honor and Glory for the good that might come out of my visit.
By going yesterday to visit him, I experienced one of the greatest blessings of my life. I was there for eight hours. The wife had not gone home in nine days. I asked her to go home, get some rest and do the errands she needed to do and that I would take care for her husband.. I told her that if she did not take care of herself that she could not be able to care of him.
Starting from the time I began walking down the hall toward his room, I focused on the environment that someone with dementia was staying in. The loud conversations of the staff and others in the hall were about to cause me an emotional outburst. Over the next eight hours, one physician and fourteen allied professionals asked me questions and intently listened to my replies. I was able to teach them how to interact and communicate more effectively with someone with dementia.
The physician talked with me for for one hour. She was very humble and wanted to provide the best care for her patient. During my time with her, she asked me specific questions related to the patient's situation. One question related to the fact that the patient had not slept in two days and nights. I explained to her how my Neurologist in Atlanta had addressed my sleep issues at the time of my diagnosis. She started the two medications last night that I told her about. The wife of the person diagnosed with LBD sent me a message this morning. He had slept all night long and was now sitting in a chair talking with her. Yesterday, he was mumbling. Each of these healthcare providers wanted to learn how to more effectively interact, communicate and care for someone with dementia.
The physician had excellent skills with her interaction and communication. As I watched some of the allied professionals, there were times I had to fight within my inner being to keep from having an emotional outburst because of their approach to the patient and attempting to get him to do something. I had to get my brain wrapped around the situation so that I did not lose it and upset the apple cart. As the shift changed yesterday evening, there were four more allied professionals who came to me and asked me to teach them what I had taught the others. Those first fourteen allied professionals made the necessary changes to accomplish better outcomes. Hopefully the final four allied professionals will make that same change. This would bring the total to nineteen professionals who are better equipped to interact and communicate with a person with dementia. These professionals and the person living with dementia will have a better quality of life because of the changes that were made.
Thank God, He enabled me to stay calm in the midst of a possible storm. To God be the glory, great things He hath done!
Working Together We Will Change the Culture of Dementia
©August 13, 2016 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.