Posts Tagged ‘arguments’

Dealing With Family Strife

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

When you’re the primary caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s, no one else in the family will truly understand what you’re going through.

In families where there is good will, conflicts can typically be worked through for the common good. Some general strategies include:

  1. Sharing responsibilities among family members
  2. Meeting regularly to discuss care issues
  3. Being honest in discussions
  4. Not being critical of each other
  5. Joining a support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers
  6. Seeking family counseling if needed

However, in families where people didn’t get along well before the diagnosis, it can create nightmares, especially for the primary caregiver. Here are some additional things you can try:

Be Patient and Understand Where They’re Coming from:  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they lack knowledge of the situation. If you can stay calm you’ll have a better chance of decreasing stressful interactions. 

Educate Your Relatives about the Patient’s Condition: It can help if you make very detailed lists of the person’s dementia symptoms and behaviors and share them with other family members. Remember, they’ve never seen the person do many things you see on a daily basis, so put down even the smallest details. Update and share these lists frequently.

Have Other Family Members Care for the Patient for Awhile:  The best way to let other family members get a better understanding of the loved one’s condition is to have them take care of the person for a while. Ideally, this would be for a week or two while you go on vacation, not just for an afternoon while you’re at a movie. Almost anyone can deal with a person with demented for a few hours. Let them take care of the person for a couple of weeks and you may find you’re being criticized less and appreciated more.

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Caregiving and Pride Don’t Mix

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Some people with Alzheimer’s are sweet and easy to get along with, but others can be extremely difficult and temperamental. My Romanian life partner, Ed, fell into the latter category, at least during a certain stage of his illness.

At that time we began having major ugly arguments on average once a week, and he didn’t get over them very easily. He had angry outbursts during which he would yell at me, tell me to get out, slam down the phone on me, and refuse to talk to me for days. He even made scenes like those in public.

The only way to move forward after these displays of anger was to send him a letter of apology, even when I had done nothing wrong. That rubbed me the wrong way. I was very proud. I was right and I liked to be right. I hated apologizing – pretending to have done something wrong when I hadn’t. In desperation I had lunch with Irene, a friend who was a geriatric social worker. She gave me three pieces of advice:  

  1.  Don’t even bring up topics you think may upset him.
  2. You can’t win an argument with a person who has Alzheimer’s. Agree with whatever he says – no matter how absurd – unless there’s a compelling reason not to, and there rarely is.
  3. If he does start to get agitated, quickly change the subject.

“I can’t promise following these guidelines will stop all the fights,” Irene said. “But it’ll help. Why don’t you try it for a while and see what happens?”

“But Irene,” I said. “I can’t agree with him when he says stupid things.”

“When that happens, just ask yourself, ‘Do I want to be right or do I want to have peace?’”

I decided I’d prefer peace and so I did take her advice, and once I mastered the rules (which took quite a bit of time) it did work. It worked like a miracle. The frequency and intensity of our arguments declined significantly. For the most part we returned to our previous easy-going relationship with just a mild disagreement now and then.

I also noticed that when other people didn’t follow these guidelines when interacting with Ed, ugly arguments typically ensued. I finally learned it really was really better to have peace than to be right. It really was best to let go of my pride.

Alzheimer’s and Unconditional Love

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Ed, my beloved Romanian soul mate of thirty years, was continuing to decline slowly and was becoming ever more difficult to get along with. Our arguments seemed unending. I was at the end of my rope. I really was.

Irene, a friend of mine told me, “You have the option of ending the relationship. You know that, right?”

That made me snap to attention.

“Irene, I can’t do that,” I said, as though it was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. “I love him. Besides, he couldn’t survive without me. How could I ever abandon him?”

“I know women who were married for as long as fifty years who, in similar situations, divorced their husbands.”

“How could I possibly do that?  It would be morally reprehensible.”

For an instant I fantasized about how wonderful it would be not to have to endure his angry outbursts. But then I imagined Ed sitting in his recliner, unaware of my quandary and the repercussions it could have for him, watching Reagan’s funeral, as if it were the only thing that mattered in the world. 

Then I immediately dismissed the thought of leaving him. I would never leave him. Never.

“Well,” Irene said, “in that case, perhaps we need to talk about how to manage the situation. There are three things I can advise you,” she said. “First, don’t bring up topics you think may upset him. Second, if he starts to get agitated, change the subject. And third, agree with everything he says, no matter how absurd.”

And that’s how it came to be that as Ed’s dementia progressed I agreed with him about more and more. Important things, unimportant things; political issues and mundane day-to-day issues; silly things and serious things.

Although this whole plan seemed ludicrous at first, I found that it did stop most of our nasty fights. Irene’s advice worked. Staying with Ed, caring for him and loving him became much easier and sometimes even joyful.

Restore Peace and Tranquility to Your Relationship

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A lot of people have suffered from negative changes in their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Sometimes the person’s personality changes for the worse and bad arguments can become the norm. There are three approaches I used that usually resulted in avoiding an argument in the first place.

1. Agree with your loved one – even if they say something ridiculous. It’s better to have peace than to be right.

2. Don’t even bring up subjects you think may upset them.

3. If they do get upset change the subject abruptly. They will most likely forget about whatever they were upset about.

These approaches worked for me. That doesn’t mean they will work for everyone, but you may want to try them. Does anyone else have other possible solutions?

Overcoming Family Strife When You’re the Primary Caregiver

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s can create tremendous stress in families. In families where there is generally good will, conflicts can typically be worked through for the common good. However, in families where people didn’t get along well before the diagnosis, it can create nightmares, especially for the primary caregiver.

The situation can become worse if some family members live out of town and only see the loved one for short, infrequent visits. They just don’t have the opportunity to witness the severity and frequency of demented behaviors you deal with every day.

You may find you’re being criticized unfairly for the care you’re providing even though you’re doing a heroic job and making major sacrifices in your personal life to do so. This can lead to bitterness and create extreme disharmony in the family.

Here are a few things you can try to reduce the friction:

1) Be Patient and Understand Where They’re Coming from: Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they lack knowledge of the situation. If you can stay calm you’ll have a better chance of decreasing stressful interactions.

2) Educate Others about the Patient’s Condition: Make very detailed lists of the patient’s dementia behaviors and share them with family members. Remember, they’ve never seen many of the things you see on a daily basis. Update these lists and share them frequently.

3) Have Others Care for the Patient for a While: The best way to let other family members understand the loved one’s condition is to have them take care of the patient for a while. Afterwards you may find you’re being criticized less and appreciated more.

 

 

Alzheimer’s and Family Strife

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s can create tremendous stress in families. In families where there is generally good will, conflicts can typically be worked through for the common good. However, in families where people didn’t get along well before the diagnosis, it can create nightmares, especially for the primary caregiver.

The situation can become worse if some family members live out of town and only see the loved one for short, infrequent visits. They just don’t have the opportunity to witness the severity and frequency of demented behaviors you deal with every day. 

You may find you’re being criticized unfairly for the care you’re providing even though you’re doing a heroic job and making major sacrifices in your personal life to do so. This can lead to bitterness and create extreme disharmony in the family.

Here are a few things you can try to reduce the friction:   

1)      Be Patient and Understand Where They’re Coming from:  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they lack knowledge of the situation. If you can stay calm you’ll have a better chance of decreasing stressful interactions.

2)      Educate Others about the Patient’s Condition: Make very detailed lists of the patient’s dementia behaviors and share them with family members. Remember, they’ve never seen many of the things you see on a daily basis. Update these lists and share them frequently.

3)      Have Others Care for the Patient for Awhile:  The best way to let other family members understand the loved one’s condition is to have them take care of the patient for awhile. Afterwards you may find you’re being criticized less and appreciated more.

Go to this Mayo Clinic article (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AZ00027) for more information on this topic.