The pain of dementia

Recently someone said: “My mother has dementia, but I am in constant pain” and that got me thinking. I started to delve into the subject and can understand the pain of the environment. Mentally walking away from someone dear to you can cause you more pain than death. The Canadian professor John Lloyd Packard (psychologist), among others, has done some interesting research.


Some people who have been confronted with a person with dementia through family or friends report similar matters. It feels like someone is missing, but never found. You can bury/cremate someone who is dead and that is where the grieving process can begin. The dementia of a man or woman in your immediate environment only presents a shell for a moment. The spirit makes the man or woman and that becomes clear when someone is spiritually gone. You do and don’t say goodbye to someone with dementia.
Of course it can still be absorbed in the beginning, people forget something, but it slowly (and sometimes the process goes very quickly) becomes more and more. However, at some point people are a danger to themselves and possibly also to the environment. Fortunately, the change also comes when the patient no longer knows, but until that moment the patient can also suffer enormously from it or continue to deny it. If possible, that’s even worse.

The role of the neighbor

It starts quite quickly in the patient’s environment. Because he or she may be in denial and then there is no point in trying to explain the process. This does not work and is rather frustrating. Leave people in denial and be alert when you can bring it up. Make a gentle attempt to start a conversation, but if it doesn’t work, stop immediately.

Change of character

Most people indicate the change in the character of the man or woman as the biggest bottleneck. People become unreasonable, sullen or even blunt. But one can also show apathy and all inhibitions are gone. Powerlessness can play a role in a number of matters, but it cannot be prevented. This is logical in itself, because if you have always had a grip on the situation/life and you feel it slowly slipping away, this can cause anxiety.

The role of the neighbor

By introducing some fixed patterns into life in a calm and non-dominant way, you subtly provide some guidance. The fact that you are taking over some of the control does not come across as if, for example, a child is taking over the role of parent. Always dealing with the situation calmly and calmly gives the best results. It is important that the person or persons who play a role in this also have an outlet. Because absorption will often have to take place in the vicinity of the patient.


Positive memories

Bringing positivity into the patient’s life is good. The feeling you create with positivity continues. Moreover, the positive things are more often the moments that one can more or less remember and that also gives the patient a good feeling and something to hold on to. A helpful tool is to make some time trips using, for example, a photo album.

To move

Exercise also evokes a positive feeling and take the patient for a walk, shopping or buying plants at the market. Exercise in combination with nature also has a good effect and if you can take a walk in the park or you don’t live far from forests or meadows, then this is also recommended. Spending an hour away in such a way has a positive effect on the patient. People continue to feel comfortable for longer and temporarily push the feeling of frustration and powerlessness into the background.


Making all situations as simple as possible is good, it starts with speaking. When you say or ask something, speak in simple and short sentences. Connect your conversation to the patient’s experience, repeat words and sentences and ensure that you engage in a conversation in a one-on-one situation. The chance of a conversation or any form of contact is greatest if you work in peace (including the environment) as described.


The frustration of seeing someone slowly slip away mentally is certainly as bad for those around them as it is for the patient himself. No matter how harsh it sounds, the person no longer knows it for a moment, but those around him see the deterioration continuing. Some people prefer to choose to leave their lives at such a moment for the reason that what is the value of life, but that is a discussion in itself.
Until then, to go along with the patient as much as possible and to have an outlet yourself, although still difficult, is something that many men or women can maintain and not just out of a sense of duty towards a parent or something like that. And that in itself is admirable. The softness of man sometimes comes to the fore here in a beautifully hard way.

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