New Word…

When sharing my mother’s behavior during my father’s last few days with the dementia expert I consult with (she could not stop picking at my dad’s mouth even when told by medical staff to cease and desist) I learned a new word:

perseveration

[pur′səvərā′shən]

Etymology: L, persevero, to persist
the involuntary and pathological persistence of the same verbal response or motor activity regardless of the stimulus or its duration. The condition occurs primarily in patients with brain damage or organic mental disorders, although it may also appear in schizophrenia as an association disturbance. It is caused by a neurological deficit.

My expert further shared that perseveration is a coping mechanism that dementia patients may employ when everything else in their bubble is out of control. Mom was focused on getting what looked like dry skin off of dad’s lips, when if fact it was healing skin. And indeed everything else was out of control. For all of us. This explains so much of what seemed like mom’s habititual behavior when dad was in the hospital: Trying to push his knees down so he’d be more comfortable, and trying to close his mouth so he wouldn’t snore, like, for a month.

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