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Of course it's a good idea to engage people with dementia in conversation. However, since the brain is not a muscle, you can't exercise the brain and have it result in improving the disease.
I do believe that keeping folks with dementia & engaged is good for their emotional well being. Many of the symptoms of dementia aren’t related to memory. Changes in mood, disposition, eating habits, and sleep patterns are often part of the dementia experience. Activity & engagement does seem to help with those symptoms.
However, the progression of the disease will march on. We can’t do much to halt it. Activity & engagement won’t stop or even alter the progression. That said, if it brings a sense of contentment in the moment, it’s probably worth doing.
It's my (un-expert!) impression that working memory is the first to go. Working memory is how the here-and-now is transferred to long-term memory.
There is a technique out there called Spaced Retrieval. There are textbooks and workbooks Etc. I read a bit about it and it seems to be something that would create considerable animosity in a relationship, but that's just my opinion, strongly colored by my own learning style.
Social interaction, otoh, is almost always good for making my LO PWD feel good, which is what it's all about. Mom will carry the happiness of a good visit for hours, and maybe even remember a good feeling the next time that visitor shows up.
What is the opinion of the experts with regards to confabulations? Should the patient be corrected or leave it as is because in their world it is correct, yes?
An interesting and informative conversation. I think memory (even in healthy brains) is a complex process scientists still don't fully understand; throw in varying types & degrees of degenereration and you can only explain some of it.
Two things I've read:
1. Never say "Do you remember..." because it can lead to frustration/depression when they can't. Instead say "I remember when you..." and see if they can fill in any details.
2. Don't argue about or correct mistaken or confabulated memory (unless the memory is traumatic to them). This falls under the "live in their world" philosophy.
My DW has FTD, in which even short term memory is largely unaffected until the late stages. This can create a whole different set of challenges for caregivers, entirely different than those familiar to AD caregivers.