As I have already mentioned the concept of time is one that is increasingly absent in the world of those with dementia, and is one of the hardest things for us as carers to understand. My Mum struggles with this on a daily basis with events that happened years ago feeling like the present, and things that are current having a confusing unreality about them. I cannot imagine how scary this is and find it incredibly hard to empathise as time is a concept that those without dementia take for granted.
Recent examples of time related confusion from my Mum include:
“What job can I do in this war? I need to help”
(On being told it is 2016) “It can’t be, I can’t be that old!
(On seeing her sister & brother in law) “Are they real?”
“Your Mother was a lovely woman, you do look like her.” (Seeing herself as my grandmother)
“Do I live here? Is this my home?” (After living here 7 years)
(After being in 5 minutes) “Why am I not going out today?”
“What time do you finish work?’ (To her Son in Law assuming he is employed to help her as staff )
She frequently say that things feel “wrong” and she has an unease that all is not well. It is hardly surprising given that she frequently cannot remember where she lives, who she is, who other people are to her, and has no sense of time. Trying to reassure her sometimes feels futile, and if I’m brutally honest, boringly repetitive as it needs to happen so frequently, but if one imagines the terror of having no sense of self, the necessity is ever present and a real challenge as a carer.