Dementia: When “Living in the Moment” is Not A Good Thing

Enjoying A Fleeting Birthday MomentTomorrow my mother turns 94 and her physical health is amazing. I have spoken about my mother and her husband Roy (who turns 99 next Spring) on this podcast several times including this episode where I interview him since he is in the final stage of Erikson’s Eight Stages of PsychoSocial Development. Like many people her age my mother suffers from dementia which means that while her long term memory is good, her short term memory is not good at all.

When she meets a new person you have to tell her that person’s name many, many times. Eventually she will get it, but she does not remember that she has asked you what the person’s name is over and over again. Living with someone who has dementia requires a great deal of patience.

Living in the Moment

There are some advantages to living in the moment, which in many ways is what people with dementia do because they cannot remember (or cannot remember very well anyway) what happened a few minutes ago.

One advantage of living in the moment is that when something annoying occurs – such as your elderly husband becoming ornery over something and is a real pain in the ass – you forget it within minutes. You quickly forget that he is in fact, a pain in the ass.

But here’s a disadvantage of this phrase we have come to associate only positive things. Recently we had to hire an live-in home health care aid to help her and her husband manage their lives (he needs help moving about the house without falling and she needs to be watched to make sure she doesn’t leave the stove on and start a fire). The aid spends most of her time sitting and waiting for either one of them to need help so she is a new presence right there in their lives. I can understand how it’s uncomfortable to have a stranger in your house. On the other hand, now I can take my mother out for day trips without having to worry about her husband.

So I took my mother out for an afternoon so we could celebrate her birthday. She was out with friends and relatives for about 5 hours and she had a great time. A great time.

She forgot almost all of it soon after I returned her home. Her focus returned to this “stranger” and how she can’t understand/remember why this person is living in their house. The recent good times – made possible only because we now have this home health aid – are lost and her focus returns to how unhappy she is to have this person in her home.

It’s sad. And more and more of us “sandwich generation” children/adults are having to deal with it.

Our memories – so essential to our happiness – are delicate. Take care of yours. Get exercise, be active, eat well.

220: PsycExplorer Roundup: More Evidence That Animals Think and Feel

Chicken webIn episode 217 I asked you to be frank with yourself: Does your animal really think? It’s easy to believe they do, but if you’re going to study this issue scientifically you have to eliminate our human tendency to anthropomorphize – to want to believe that animal actions are motivated by internal states.

Here’s a roundup of a few articles I found in my PsycExplorer app (PsycExplorerHD for iPad) which show exactly what psychologists are doing to find out what exactly is going on (if anything…) in the minds of dogs, cats, rats, chickens and yes fruit flies. Are they really thinking in there? Well, maybe so. These examples certainly convinced me, although it might all depend on what you mean by “thinking” and “feeling”.
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Ep 214: Your Adolescence is Giving Me A Mid-Life Crisis!

We all know that adolescence is a time of change and often a tough time for the teen. But what about the parent? Today’s parents are often older than years ago, and today’s parents are sometimes going through their own self-examination, their own doubts, their own exploration. What happens when you bring those two together? Sometimes a lot of yelling frankly. In this episode I talk about the changes going on in the adolescent and in the older parent and how parents can avoid the yelling and the accusations that only undermine what the teen is going through and how parents can step back and examine themselves. A little understanding can go a long way.
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Ep 211: Is a Little Deception Okay? Paid Crowds and Native Advertising

crowds for hireWe face more moral “dilemmas” in everyday life than maybe we don’t realize. How do we resolve them? In this episode I discuss two interesting moral dilemmas: a) should you employ for-hire crowds of actors to attend your event in order to make it look like you’re more popular than you really are? and b) should you place your advertisements on web and print pages in such a way that they don’t really look like ads at all? I discuss the moral questions involved in “native advertising“. You’ll find some unique examples of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.
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Ep 210: How to Memorize Kolhberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Need to memorize Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development really quickly? This is what you’re looking for – a brief audio podcast in which I give you some crazy images that will stick in your mind for a really long time. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll have the six stages memorized. Some of my listeners have said that the mnemonics they’ve learned here have stuck in the stuck in their head for years! Whether you are studying for a psychology test or a nursing exam, you will find this a fun and effective way to learn. I challenge you to listen to this episode and then quiz yourself a few hours later. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Let’s memorize!
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