Posts Tagged ‘getting along’

Caregiving Pearls

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

1.    Don’t Be in Denial: It’s only natural to be in denial when a loved one begins to show signs of dementia, but that only prevents the person from getting a diagnosis, starting treatment, and planning for the future.

 2.    Don’t Ask, “Do You Remember?” Of course they can’t remember. If they could remember they wouldn’t be diagnosed with dementia. Asking if they remember some person or event could make them frustrated.

 3.    Do Interact With the Person at His or Her Level:  You may want to interact with the person the way you always have, but that isn’t going to be possible. Instead, figure out at what age they appear to be behaving, then connect with them at that level.

 4.    To Connect With People Who Have Alzheimer’s, Put Something Meaningful in Their Hand: This is a valuable tip provided by Tom and Karen Brenner in their book, You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care. You may have to experiment some to find out what is meaningful to any specific person.

 5.    To Connect With People With Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Try Introducing Them to Children, Pets, Music or Art:  These four activities will often reach people in the late stages of the illness – even if they hardly talk anymore. 

6.    Don’t Argue, Correct or Disagree: You can’t win an argument with a person who has dementia – so don’t even try. Neither should you contradict them. It will make them dig in their heels even more strongly.

 7.    Don’t Bring up Topics That May Upset the Person: If you know your loved one will get upset if you talk about politics, for example, don’t start the conversation in the first place. It will probably lead to a battle you don’t want to have.

 8.    Do Quickly Change the Subject If the Person Does Get Upset: If the person does get upset one of the best things you can do is redirect their attention to something else, preferable something pleasant.

 9.    Don’t Quit Visiting When the Person Doesn’t Know Who You Are:  Just because your loved one does not recognize you doesn’t mean they have no feelings. People with Alzheimer’s may enjoy being visited even if they don’t know precisely who the visitor is.

 10.  Do Take Care of Yourself:  Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is hard work. The gold standard book on Alzheimer’s caregiving isn’t entitled The 36-Hour Day for nothing. Take good care of yourself for your benefit and for the good of the person for whom you’re caring. You can’t be an effective, compassionate caregiver if you’re exhausted and burned out all the time.


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?