By C.A. Bryson
This post begins with a follow-up on last week’s Therapeutic Reasoning and Validation Therapy post.
I tried out Validation Therapy with my dad following a delusion he had about having to go to a conference. He had insight—he realized that he wasn’t thinking straight, but the fact that he did have delusion bothered and upset him. You may recall the scenario from last week (Scenario # 1: Milking the Cows), when I discussed the method for Therapeutic Reasoning. Dad was doing something similar: to him, attending a conference was something he did as part of his academic career, just like ‘milking the cows’.
And so, I did what Naomi Feil (Gerontologist, and expert in Validation Therapy), advised. I said ‘Dad, I hear you. I hear that you’re upset. Tell me more.’ And I listened. And within half an hour, the matter was forgotten.
Something else I use with dad that works—poetry. Recall that Ms. Feil advised caregivers to use music to soothe and calm their loved ones. Well with dad, poetry is like music to his ears. (There’ll be more on music therapy in a subsequent post, stay tuned.) And so, I bought him his favourite Lewis Carroll book ‘Through the Looking Glass’, in which the famous poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ goes something like this:
‘The time has come’, the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things,:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.’
And while dad often can’t remember what day it is, he can recite the above poem by heart, as well as Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be’ speech from William Shakespeare. It is in the moments when we share his childhood memories of summers up at Lake Simcoe that I savour the most and forget about his medication and doctor visit worries. At night I think: ‘Good God, what will I do after he’s gone?’ and all that anticipatory grief washes over me in the silence, and then I feel grateful for the swooshing sound of the dishwasher and the drone of ceaseless traffic outside.
And now the poem. I composed this based on an Oprah ad I saw:
What You Need is Now
‘Create the life you want’, Oprah said
All well and good
As long as you realize
Getting what you want—
May not necessarily be
What you need.
And where you are at
Is probably just fine.
It’s like looking at a rose:
It’s beautiful but…
Watch out for those pesky thorns!!
The life I want?
Let me see…
Cheesecake without calories.
The life I have?
His ‘Depends’ duty
A life nourished by screens
And mac and cheese
Doesn’t sound half bad to me.
Next week’s post is on Nostalgia: what is it and what does it mean to the caregiver and his/her loved one? How can we nurture it? What are the benefits?
Stay tuned… Thanks for coming along on my journey.