Conversation with a Mentor


I have a mentor I am very fond of, a wise and gentle old man. We don’t see each other very often, but each time we do, we cover many topics and I come off a little wiser. The conversations often go like this… I surface a problem, he asks a few key questions, and we discuss and arrive at the conclusion. Then repeat until all problems have been covered. We do not always agree, but that is fine. More importantly, we reason things out.

We talk about many many things, but the approach is always the same. Who are the players, what is the stage; what did the players do, what drives them.  Then comes the crux – what is likely to happen next and how quickly will it happen. And then we ask, is there anything we can do to influence events, and if so, what should we do, in order to ensure a good outcome. (No, we are not in politics, but politics is everywhere!)

We don’t actually meet very often, and I am so glad we could meet again a few days ago, after an interval of more than a year! Despite that, we could dive straight into discussion, and as usual, I learned quite a few things.

After we discussed work-related issues, we went on to other topics. We touched on the aged sick, and the problem of medical over-treatment thus prolonging death and suffering. We discussed gay marriage and whether it will arrive in Singapore (where sex between men is still illegal). Finally we discussed dementia. To my surprise, though I really shouldn’t be, he showed in-depth knowledge of dementia. We discussed the experiences I faced with my mom not really recognising me as described in previous blog posts (Feb 13, Apr 14, May 20).

And then he recommended I read the following book – Dancing with Dementia, by Christine Bryden. I am only halfway through it, but it has been an epiphany. Written by a dementia sufferer herself, she has given me so much new insight into how my mother must be perceiving the world and feeling inside. How little I had understood before! For example, Christine writes about her awareness and how difficult it is to perform certain tasks, such as making a cup of tea, carrying a glass of water, even walking, as the dementia progressed. I can  hardly imagine how mom feels as she tries hard to carry on normally. Christine’s first book is “Who will I be when I die?” but it is not yet available on Kindle.

I am grateful to Christine Bryden for writing about her journey, and glad my mentor introduced her to me. I fully recommend it to caregivers who wish to understand better what their loved ones are experiencing as they live with dementia.

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13 thoughts on “Conversation with a Mentor”

  1. That’s so nice of you to showcase a book that would be helpful to anyone with a loved one who has a form of dementia.

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  2. Hi! This book reminds me of a soulful essay of a daughter’s story taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s Disease. I kept that old copy of The New Yorker where it was published about ten years back but I couldn’t find it anymore after my several change of residences. It was titled ‘Slow Dancing In The Dark’. Thanks for sharing this book. It’s going to be helpful for people like us whose Alzheimer’s experiences are either vicarious or real.

    Best,

    Eva

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    1. Thanks for dropping in, Eva. The online support forum is great for us caregivers. Now if only I can start a dementia patient support group for my mom, as the author found that helpful for herself. The dementia day care centers here in Singapore are full with no vacancy, and the other eldercare centres we have seen are not stimulating enough.

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      1. I’ve been going to Singapore to check on elder centers and I would have to agree with you. Where I am, we do have one that was started by a doctor-family member of a dementia patient. By all means I would encourage you to start a face to face interactive support group because there’s nothing like personal sharing and discussion of the most compelling issues in Alzheimer’s. And I know that you know it’s compelling with a capital C! Once it gets going, it will just have a life of its own. And by now I know how cathartic and comforting it is to be able to share ones ‘burdens’ and struggles with others similarly situated,.

        Best,

        Eva

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  3. I always wondered what Mom must have been going through in her mind. I just “knew” that she was scrambling to hold on. Wish this book had been around for me but glad it is for you and others.

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  4. Thank you, I am going to make sure I pick up a copy of this book. I really want to understand what my grandfather is going through.

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    1. I hope it helps you, even though it is written from the viewpoint of a woman and I don’t know how the men feel. It made me really sad to read it, though, and I can detect early early signs in myself… shudder.

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      1. It is on both sides of my family. So I am sure that when the time comes, I will end up showing signs. 😦

        Its a scarey thought. I hope that some day soon they can find a way to slow or stop the process in its tracks.

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  5. Awesome post, thank you for sharing. 😀 Especially a book on Dancing with Dementia. Very insightful indeed! There is a film I’ve been meaning to watch as well with a Japanese lady’s journey and dementia called Poem or something like that. 😀

    Pink.

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