Dementia and “Whackadoo, Whackadoo!”

I am hoping the title of this blog captured your attention. What could it possibly mean? I am excited to share the story.

My company offers Hospice Music for those individuals who are in their final days. It is a meaningful experience for both the patient and for us as providers of the music. It is very common for our clients to be experiencing dementia brought on by any of over two hundred different reasons. (Yes, there are over two hundred reasons an individual may have dementia!)

Recently, a client captured the attention of Sissy, Director of Hospice Music, and she captured the attention of everyone else in the room, also. However, that attention may not have been positive attention.

“Did you know I speak six languages?” she asked Sissy.

“No. I had no idea. That’s wonderful,” Sissy replied.

“Would you like for me to say something in Spanish?”

“Ok. I might not understand you, but go ahead.” Sissy, however, was in no way prepared for what the client offered.

“Whackadoo, whackadoo, go to H E _ _!”

Sissy is a trained Dementia Specialist. She understands why individuals may use curse words, and she does not pass judgment. This response, however, was so unexpected that Sissy had a hard time keeping her composure. To make the situation even more interesting, Sissy and the client were seated in a common area of an assisted living. The client made her pronouncement very loudly, and everyone turned to see what was happening. Sissy was somewhat embarrassed, and she was trying hard not to laugh.

Alzheimer’s type dementia destroys the frontal lobe. This lobe is where the ability to process what is appropriate and inappropriate is formed. The individual may loose this ability, and they cannot be held responsible for what they may say or do. To make things even more interesting, often times the most commonly used words are curse words. These words are available in the brain when socially acceptable words are often lost.

The best response to someone who is being inappropriate is diversion. Not responding may be hard, but it is a good plan.

“Well, how about we have a snack now.” Or, “Did I tell you I have a grandson?” Change the topic, quickly, and pray the individual follows your lead. Never get angry with them or correct them. This is not a good response, and it will most likely cause additional inappropriate behaviors to come forth.
Life is interesting.

Keep on smiling. Hope that gives you Something To Ponder!

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