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dementia

This article originally appeared on 09.08.16


92-year-old Norma had a strange and heartbreaking routine.

Every night around 5:30 p.m., she stood up and told the staff at her Ohio nursing home that she needed to leave. When they asked why, she said she needed to go home to take care of her mother. Her mom, of course, had long since passed away.

Behavior like Norma's is quite common for older folks suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Walter, another man in the same assisted living facility, demanded breakfast from the staff every night around 7:30.

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Woman screams at a TikTok user she accused of stealing a car.

Guilherme Peruca turned on his phone's camera and started recording after an elderly woman began screaming at him through his passenger side window in a Lowe's parking lot. The woman was accusing him of stealing her friend's car, but she was mistaken.

"I need help!" the woman yells outside of his passenger side window. "Someone's trying to steal my best friend's car."

When Peruca told the woman the car was his she yelled back, "Get outta here" as she tried to pry open the door.

"He's stealing this car, it's not his!" the woman continued. "I don't care what he says!"

Eventually, a Lowe's employee intervened to sort out the situation. Peruca showed her his driver's license and car registration to prove the vehicle was his and then the employee calmly guided the woman away.

Peruca didn't need to show her his paperwork but he did so anyway just to deescalate the situation.

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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Anyone who's had a relative or friend with dementia will know just how destructive the group of diseases is. The condition can impair memory, communication, focus, reasoning, and visual perception, transforming a sufferer into what can seem like an entirely different person in a matter of seconds.

Dr. Philip Grimmer, from Wiltshire in the United Kingdom, was visiting one of his patients with the disease when he saw the words of reassurance written on a whiteboard by a daughter to her mother that he decided to share on Twitter.

"Words of reassurance left for an elderly lady with dementia by her daughter," Dr. Grimmer explains. "A simple white board left in her sight line in her sitting room. Helped to reduce constant anxious phone calls."

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