All memory seems lost; lives in eternal present
When it happens
By mid- and late-severe stage dementia
Why it happens
Between of an erosion of memory, difficulty communicating, and loss of self-awareness, the present moment becomes everything.
What you can do
Be in the moment. It's natural to long for the past or worry about the future, but the person with dementia needs you to be present and calm right now.
Lower your expectations. A skill that was performed yesterday (putting a foot into a shoe with help, remembering to swallow) may require constant prompting today.
Consider learning about mindfulness-based stress reduction for yourself. Classes may involve more time than you have available -- but you can learn parts of the technique, such as mindful breathing exercises that help lower anxiety and deal with the present. An easy one to try: Breathe in through your nose for a count of five, hold for seven beats, then exhale through the mouth for eight counts. Repeat six times, as needed.