Jun 28, 2017

Dementia Care, Reverting Back to Childhood

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people make a connection between childlike behavior and the behavior of older adults with dementia.

Alzheimer's patients aren't children and should not be treated like a child.

“She’s reverting back to how she was when she was a child,” you will hear people say.

Nobody with dementia is going back in time. Dementia is not a time machine.

Yes, people with dementia do seem to gain some childish behaviors as their disease progresses.

This isn't because they are “reverting” back to being children, however, it’s because they are losing things that they've learned as adults.

By Rachael Wonderlin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

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When you’re a child (and especially when you’re a teenager) you often find yourself reacting poorly to various situations. You argue, you accuse, you get yourself into trouble. As you age, however, you learn.

Your brain finally finishes forming by the time that you’re done with your early twenties, and you make better decisions.

Instead of blurting something out, you hold it in. You’ve learned to hold back, and your fully-formed brain helps you manage your speech and your behavior.

People with dementia don’t have the same ability to control their reactions, their speech, their memory, or, eventually, even their ability to walk. The brain of someone with dementia is, quite literally, degrading slowly over time.

She isn’t turning back into a child—her brain has just lost the momentous gains it made throughout her life.

I hate to compare the destruction that dementia causes in the brain to the beauty and innocence of childhood. It feels almost, to me, that we’re making dementia seem - simple. It’s as though we’re suggesting that the people who have dementia are silly and cute in the way that children are.

When a child stumbles, he or she will probably bounce back up. When an 80-year-old man with dementia falls, the injuries he sustains could end his life.

When children make a mess feeding themselves, everyone congratulates them for trying. “Isn’t she so cute?” they’ll ask. When a woman with dementi

a makes a mess while eating, people shake their heads. “What a sad disease,” they’ll say.

We can’t make a simple comparison between dementia and child-like behavior. A child is a person who has not yet grown up.

A person with dementia is an adult who is struggling to regain their place in the world.

Dementia is not a time machine.

Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s of Science in Gerontology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Racheal is a dementia care consultant, trainer, and community designer. She blogs at Dementia By Day.

More Articles on Alzheimer's and Dementia by Rachael Wonderlin

How to Become a Dementia Detective

What is Aphasia in Dementia?

Don't Want to Lie to a Person Living with Dementia, Why Not Embrace Reality Instead

Knowledge Base

6 Reasons Why You Might Have to Put Someone with Dementia in a Memory Care Facility or Nursing Home

How to do it Alzheimer's care

How to talk to a parent with dementia

What to do when dementia patient gets agitated

Care of Dementia Patients

Source Alzheimer's Reading Room

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Child a young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority.

Childlike resembling, suggesting, or appropriate to a child or childhood; marked by innocence, trust, and ingenuousness.

Cope. To face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties in an effective and calm manner or way.

Dementia care is the art of looking after and providing for the needs of a person living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.