Friday, 28 January 2011
I am an occupational therapy student, and this week, I started my level one fieldwork. Tuesdays, I get to go to an adult daycare facility and spend the day with a dozen or so older adults with the start of dementia. It's heartbreaking to think that just a few years ago, these folks were all independent and "with it", and now some of them are hard to understand or make no sense at all.
The day starts when their family or Access Transport brings them to the center, which is the first floor of a large, old house. They have coffee and can chat with each other until most of them are there. Then, we do exercises (while sitting down) and do a few other activities before lunch.
After lunch, there's a little "down time" before more activities. When I was there, we played a variation on Bingo, had an older woman come in and play piano with us, and told some jokes. It was structured enough but felt relaxed, too.
I can't imagine what it must be like for the families of these folks. One woman looks to be in her early sixties, but if you ask her a question, she can't respond with an appropriate answer. Another, older woman was so happy to see her husband at the end of the day, and he looked at her with so much love, but I can't imagine the heartbreak of a wife who doesn't always remember who you are.
We also had the requisite older men who were quite happy to have a cute, young, college girl around. It's a really great opportunity for me to learn more about people with dementia and exercise my OT skills.
My grandparents live in different cities, and they're all still active members of their community, so caring for people with dementia is something I've never experienced. And I hope I never have to experience it in my family, but I know that the statistics aren't that good.
So I hope that if I ever know someone who needs care, that he or she will be able to access the kind of resources, like this adult daycare center, where he or she can be treated with dignity and love and kept socially active for as long as possible.
Are you taking care of a loved one with dementia? Do you take him or her to an adult daycare center, or does that person stay at home most of the day?
If not, have you thought about this possibility as your parents age? Would you send them to "adult day care" or would you care for them at home? What would you want your kids to do for you?