A daughter’s “words of reassurance” for her elderly mother with dementia has sparked a conversation about the heart-wrenching condition online.
The phrases, “Your meals are paid for”, “You don’t owe anyone any money”, and “You haven’t upset anyone” were among those reminders the woman had written down for her beloved mother and left where she could see it.
“A simple white board left in her sight line in her sitting room helped to reduce constant anxious phone calls,” the post on Reddit reads.
Some who claim to work in the health industry have commented on the post, with one adding “this reassurance is hugely beneficial”.
“So many of my patients with dementia have anxiety about owing someone money or needing to pay for where they are,” they commented.
“I used to work as a nurse in a nursing home. I couldn’t count the times that an elderly resident would refuse to eat, and when questioned would admit they had no money to pay,” a second recalled.
“Many patients with dementia forget to drink water and are very dehydrated. Being properly hydrated helps the brain work properly,” said a third.
Almost 500,000 dementia patients in Australia
According to Dementia Australia, the condition is the second leading cause of death of Australians, and the organisation estimated in 2018 that there are 436,366 Australians living with dementia.
One Reddit user described it as “the most awful of diseases”.
“Alzheimer’s, and those diseases that rob us of our memories and our recognition of those we spent a lifetime with are heart wrenching diseases,” said another.
Many people who commented on the post shared their own stories of how they helped loved ones struggling with the condition.
“My grandma had post-it notes everywhere in the house near the end of her life…she had to have tons of notes to remind her how to operate the appliances and what things were for.”
Another said they bought their grandmother an Amazon Echo with a Spotify subscription, adding it was one of the best things they did for her.
“She can listen to her music whenever she wants, and ask it ‘what day is it’ as many times as she likes,” they wrote.
“She has a list of commands laminated next to it. It really improved her quality of life and helped her feel less lonely.”
One health care walker said they leave similar signs on walkers to help their residents with dementia.
“Stand tall, look ahead, stay close to your walker, etc. Great visual cues to compensate for memory loss and to reduce fall risk,” they said.
A different person who claims they look after dementia patients at the hospital suggested other things which might help, including a doll to care for, colouring, drawing and music.