“She doesn’t know she’s got dementia. She doesn’t suffer from it. She’s quite happy really, what I’d call pleasantly confused.” This sort of remark is surprisingly common. The person with dementia is seen in the same way as someone who has had a bit too much to drink and is in a state somewhere between being nicely relaxed and slightly muddled. It may be quite an enjoyable condition to be in provided it is only temporary. But how pleasant is it really to be confused?
If you’ve ever woken up in a strange bedroom and wondered for a few moments where you are, you may have an idea how it feels. The relief floods through you when you realise that you’re actually on holiday — in a hotel bedroom. But imagine what it must be like if the confusion persists and the relief never comes. If you think about it, it is difficult to believe that being in a state of confusion can ever be pleasant.
As for not being aware of having dementia, surveys show that it is the most feared disease among the over 55s. We are all aware when we forget someone’s name, forget where we put our keys or forget what someone has just said to us. We will be the first ones to suspect we have a problem if this starts to happen regularly.
If you know someone who you think is pleasantly confused you can be absolutely certain they are not enjoying the confusion, quite the opposite, they are putting a brave face on a terrifying situation and coping heroically with a devastating disease. Those living with memory problems are welcome at The Wednesday (Memory) Group in Retford. For information call Jan on 01777 709974.