Can Talking Mats be used with people with late stage dementia?

Grandma Murphy

Grandma Murphy’s thoughts

Last Monday I was visiting my mum-in-law who is 95 and has severe dementia. She wasn’t great when I arrived and the staff said she was very tired. It was hard to understand what she was saying and she seemed very frail. For something to do, I showed her some of the new Talking Mats images on my iPad and she perked up and smiled at several of them.

I then took a risk and suggested she might like to use them to tell me what she thinks about herself. I was amazed as she looked carefully at each image, thought about it, made a comment and indicated where she wanted to put it on the ‘mat’. For the first time in ages with me she seemed to be in the present and not in some confused place in her mind

Here are some of her comments:

Getting around – she said she was glad she has a wheel chair to help

Hearing – she said she thought her hearing had got better ( I later discovered she had just got a new hearing aid that morning!)

Feet – sometimes her feet are sore underneath (the staff are going to get the chiropodist to have a look)

Talking – she said it depends who she’s talking to!

Money – said she could always do with more!

The 3 things she was not happy about were – needing help from others, taking her medication and her teeth. (The staff confirmed that she hates taking her medication and have referred her to the dentist).

She loved the pictures and took loads of time thinking about each one and really studied the whole mat at the end.

Her granddaughter Susan said: ‘I thought it was amazing to get a sense of what Grandma is thinking.  This may be silly but I actually felt really moved by it!  It’s so hard to get any sense out of Grandma these days so it was really fascinating to get an insight into her thoughts.’


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