Do we really know our inner self? I’m not sure. But can we? Or know or understand someone else’s inner self.
As we age, we change physically but also mentally. Our brains are not able to process so effectively as we used to do. Our thoughts may appear to others as irrational. I would question whether these thoughts are actually irrational.
For those individuals with dementia they may struggle to maintain a conversation as they can sometimes forget their train of thought. It can be so difficult for them as they so desperately want to communicate as they have so successfully done for all their lives. They can get so upset when we fail to understand their argument.
I want to describe one moment recently where the communication connected so vividly. They were unsure where they were living and wanted to know for sure that they could continue living where they believed they lived. We explained the situation but it was too complex. What was needed was to hold their hand and to say “you are staying here”. They were exhausted and struggling to identify any logic in their circumstances. Suddenly their expression changed, their head lifted so they could see everyone eye -to-eye. Their mouth suddenly transformed into a radiant smile – they were like a child who had suddenly seen a months supply of chocolate!
It will be a memory which will stay with me for the rest of my life.
It brought me to ponder more about how we view those with dementia. When they struggle with the conversation, as they try to link statements to make their argument, we can try to correct or prompt them when we perceive they are struggling. We might even play along with their statements, but here I would ask whether we might try to grasp what exactly they are trying to articulate.
For what they are saying or explaining is true to them. They are trying to express their inner self.
It might not be what we perceive to be true but do our truths equate?
Perhaps their understanding may well be true to them and we may wish to respect that, for to challenge them dispels their understand of truth.
Are we right to do this or tell them our version of truth?