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Dementia Can Be Like Groundhog’s Day

When a loved one has dementia it can often feel to them and to their caregiver that they are stuck in the movie Groundhog’s Day. 

The same questions are repeated and the same schedule and routine is done from day-to-day, which is especially true during this time of COVID.  However, much like Bill Murray begins to change things up so can we.

For a person living with dementia schedules and routines are a big help to keeping their inner clock in synch.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time helps the circadian rhythm stay intact, but only if we follow their personal history.  This is a key part of our MOSAIC philosophy at Azura, we recognize that if we adapt to our residents schedule, their days and nights go much smoother.  We have less falls, higher cognitive recall and our residents enjoy better days.

Prior to admission we use our MOSAIC Quality of Life Profile to learn about each resident’s personal schedule, including if they like to take a shower or bath, when and what their routine was to ensure they have the best experience possible.  Repeating the tasks of life helps to tap into long-held body and flow memories that are located throughout the brain and not as affected by the disease process until the very end.

However, just like in the movie, repeating every day can be extremely frustrating, which is why we strive to find INNOVATIVE ways to engage our residents that include socialization, active, cognitive, and creative therapy.  These sparks of difference are what light up their lives and enhance their quality of life.

As Bill Murray finds when you add in and recognize the personalized joys of life, it can make even repeating Groundhog’s Day bearable.  As a caregiver we need to take a moment to see and utilize these joys to our advantage. 

Does Mom love to listen to 50’s music?  Then let her have her joy, while you take a long shower and find a moment to relax. Does Dad love to see Deer?  Showing him a video on YouTube about a big buck might engage him to sit and relax versus trying to go outside.  Grandma might love to knead dough, while you wash the dishes.  It does not matter that the bread never bakes, it is the joy she has in the doing and the peace you receive in the moment, that matters and supporting you both to live, not just exist.

One thing that Bill Murray does not do, is just exist.  For a moment he wants to just pull the covers over his eyes and stay in bed, but he quickly realizes that he is in control of how he approaches the day.  He can make it joyful and have some fun or he can choose not to. 

Those with memory loss are being stripped of this choice, but our actions and reactions can help the sun to enter their world and shine a light in their life.  We can embrace Groundhog’s Day like our furry friends do and search for the sun or we burrow down into our hole and let the days slip away. It is our choice that matters to us and for those whom we give care.

At Azura we teach our Team that their actions, reactions and choices make or break our resident’s MOSAIC.  It is important to realize that is the same for all caregivers paid or unpaid.  Do we embrace the overly needed dough or complain of the hard bread?

“May today not be a repeat, but the start of something EXCEPTIONAL.”

~ P. Gibson

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