Retrogenesis is the process of people with Alzheimer’s/dementia reverting back to childhood stages..as dementia progresses and more brain cells are ruined, the earlier the stages…I wrote what’s below in 2008. Just stumbled across it again. I’m not a poet, I realize it’s not a masterpiece, but I like some of the concepts…body flowing forward, mind flowing backward. And tabula rasa, at beginning and end. Okay, not exactly, but you get the general idea. 🙂 Maybe it will give you something to think about.
When you look at me
What do you see?
An old woman
Or a young lady?
I am both.
My body flows forward
My mind flows backward.
I feel young
Others say I’m old.
That old lady in the mirror strains to see
But that is not me.
I don’t understand why my body fails
When my mind tells me I am so able.
The walker in my hands cannot be mine
I walk with a youthful upright stride.
My mind crackles with static;
time becomes dynamic.
One minute here, one minute there.
I am falling through time
One year two year three year four.
Thirty years forty years fifty years and more.
Now I’m back in childhood, happy and serene.
The years tick back to infancy
as my slate gets wiped clean.
The tabula rasa, beginning and end.
Description: Many people with dementia demonstrate a pattern of behaviors that are perplexing and risky. It turns out there is often a trigger causing the issue. Occupational Therapy (OT) Practitioners are great at investigating the issue, then finding & removing the trigger, therefore extinguishing the behavior.
(I am on a Gerontology Listserv for Occupational Therapists (through the American Occupational Therapy Association), and I’ve gotten to read some really interesting posts lately by OTs about behavior in dementia they have encountered in practice, and how even bizarre behavior typically has a trigger that can be figured out.)
Example 1: There was a woman who kept on climbing on her chest of drawers and was at a high risk for falls, obviously. The OT assessed the situation and found out it mostly happened in the afternoon, and observed the woman. It turned out the woman’s roommate had a crystal in the window and around 2pm the sun would hit it in such a way as to make a kaleidoscope of dazzling colors on the chest of drawers. This was the trigger for her climbing. The crystal was moved and the problem was solved.
Example 2: An older man who fell constantly. The OT did research and discovered he loved biking. She also discovered that he needed a lot of vestibular input and sensory integration-based interventions, or he’d start trying to self-stimulate and would end up falling.
Example 3: A man always groped his caretaker at nighttime during bath time. It seemed like a huge problem, but the OT discovered that historically, the man had always bathed with his wife at night before lovemaking. By moving the bath to the morning, the problem was solved.
Basically, the OT is often an investigator. There were other stories involving men urinating in potted plants and the like. I really liked the discussion because they talked about validation theory, retrogenesis, behavioral triggers, and more. It’s amazing to me.
*I originally wrote this way back in 2008…just stumbled across it again.