“Hello. Anybody home?” Came a familiar voice from outside the Jura Care office. “Yes George, please come in.” I replied to the English gentleman.

George is a sports fanatic and immediately asked me whether we were able to watch the game last night. George read yesterday in the newspaper that Man United was playing against Newcastle. I informed him that he got the date wrong as they were only playing tonight at 21:45 PM. He smiled warmly and I knew that in that moment, unlike the fleeting thoughts which hurriedly scatter through his mind, that emotion was real and his facial expression proved it. The smile faded as he began telling me about a lengthy problem with his shower and how the water wouldn’t go down the drain and that the shower just kicked off without him being able to wash his hair. “The shower just flooded.” He said with slight distress. ‘This doesn’t sound good.’ I thought to myself. ‘Better go check.’ 

I followed him to his room and entered his bathroom. The floor was wet but thankfully there was no flooding. I tested the shower to see if the drainage was too slow, but everything was fine. “It’s normal if you see a bit of water rising at your feet, just be sure the water doesn’t enter your room.” I reassured him and switched off the shower. Suddenly he looked surprised and I could see he was thinking hard about something. “You know what it was?” He asked eventually without giving me time to answer. “In England they had all this movement up north.” I didn’t understand, so waited for him to continue. “It was terrible. People had to leave their houses from all the water. And there was no football. It wasn’t possible. All the fields were filled with water.” He finished and I directed him to a warm cup of tea in the living room.

I was very interested with what he had told me and the related events that had just occurred. It was as if the events that had occurred to him held no sequential structure in his mind, that is to say that the two different events that occurred; there being no football last night and his shower getting slightly flooded, were combined by his mind into one story. It is likely that due to the mental illness, his mind is no longer able to categorize experiences in a sequential and categorical manner, thus giving rise to the communication problems which are so very common with the various forms of Dementia. But perhaps it is not that they are having communication problems, example; expressing themselves verbally, but instead that they are expressing exactly what they are experiencing; a disorderly chaotic mess. Imagine our minds to be the game of scrabble where the brain’s natural task is to arrange the chaotic letters, which enter the brain via the various sensory perceptions, into an orderly sequence thereby forming words, sentences and images. Communication problems in this specific case have nothing to do with communication but instead with the brain no longer arranging the letters or images into an orderly and appropriate sequence. So it would not be correct to say that George had trouble communicating with me this morning but rather that he himself had trouble making sense of what has and is happening around him and with him. So to simplify, George underwent the following experience from my perspective:

This morning around 06:30 AM, George had a shower. The water didn’t drain out fast enough. As he stood with his feet in the water, he become worried that the water was going to flood into his room. And so he switched off the shower. Later, around 08:45 AM, George speaks with me and hears that there was no football last night and that they are only playing tonight. We then return to his shower where we inspect the problem. He then gasps as if finally being able to bring sense as to why these two strange events occurred. His mind, unable to comprehend why these two events occurred, links the two completely unrelated events together to form one story that could explain the reason for both occurring. There was a flood in England and that was the reason why there wasn’t any football last night. Now it could also be that perhaps in the past there actually was a flood in England and that George still has a memory of this event and the memory has been recalled as a result of the similarity of today’s events. But we will leave this possibility out.


Peacocks in the garden

It is very important to develop a rich understanding of the various aspects of the ‘Dementias,’ for it will allow for more empathic and sincere care. It is for this reason that the Jura Care Village has an ongoing blog and why we will have training programs for the public in due time.