Welcome again to my virtual support community and October blog.
If you are, or were, like me, you often wonder if you are doing things OK as you care for your person living with dementia. Either way, you may feel guilty that you aren’t doing enough or because you have such feelings or thoughts.
Here are some of the most common, and understandable, things you should try NOT to say or do:
Lose your patience when they get upset or ask the same question repeatedly. They can’t change, and would if they could.
Try to correct them when they say or do something wrong. If they could get it right, they would.
Ask them “don’t you remember me (or my name)?” If they are happy to be with you and you make them feel better, that’s enough.
Use logic on or argue with them. You won’t change their mind or behavior and you will never win the argument. Ever. Yes, think logically and talk calmly in a reassuring way.
React or respond in kind to anger or anxiety. Try to talk softly and with little emotion. In fact, it’s OK to not respond at all. Shift their focus and anticipate a change to a better mood.
Keep in mind that it's not personal and they probably won’t remember it or be upset with you later, whether after an hour or the next day!
Here are a few things you SHOULD try:
Knowing outbursts and repeated questions are imminent, be prepared for them, including some answers. Try doing a little improv!
They will ask over and over when they have an upcoming appointment or visitor. Instead, tell them not long beforehand, but be sure they are prepared: bathed, clothed, fed, toileted, etc.
Have tasks, activities, or objects to keep them positively engaged or occupied. And, it doesn’t matter if they don’t do it correctly or the same as you would. Let it go if no harm is done.
Again: it is not important if they forgot your name or exact relationship. As Maya Angelou reminded us: how do you make them feel?
Regardless, it’s OK. You are doing the best you can!
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