How to Talk to a Parent with Dementia
I am not certain when mom got dementia. We live together and spend a lot of time together so I honestly did not notice it for a while. She can hide it well around people that she does not see often. It is very noticeable now and you would pick up on it fairly quickly if you were talking with her.
Turn Anger into Compassion
The majority of mom’s life was caring for her family which involved cooking, cleaning, and taking care of us. She is such a great mom. The first thing I noticed in this journey was she would get aggravated with me if I did not eat what she cooked. I am 58 years old and began a low carb diet a year ago. The majority of what she cooked was bread, potatoes, pasta. If I said to her “mom do not cook for me as I am trying not to eat carbs.” Well, she kept doing it and the conversation kept repeating.
Dementia, Anxiety, and Arguments
Below are a couple of video suggestions to help calm anxiety. They offer a break from fussing, anxiety, and crying. The below one is Gramma and Ginga. This one is so inspiring as both of these lovely ladies are over 100 years old and still got it going on.
Dementia and Communication Strategies
First of all, I try to respect mom at all times. Her brain cells are dying and she cannot help how she acts or what she says. Focus on how you say things. This is difficult if you are tired and busy. I fail many times with this. Keep a calm voice and control your facial expressions. Do not give them many choices. This is something I did not understand at first either. Offer two things or choose for them. I know what she likes to eat or where she likes to go for the most part. Asking her too many things with choices gives her anxiety. Make sure you face your loved one when you talk to them. I have to raise my voice as my mom cannot hear well. Female voices are harder to hear than male voices.
Do not ask someone with Dementia a lot of Questions
When mom first got diagnosed with vascular dementia I found myself testing her by asking questions. I honestly thought I could make her snap out of dementia. It turns out this causes embarrassment for your loved one.
Working on my Approach
I am working on how I communicate with my mom. It is something I have to practice over and over. I want her to be happy and free of anxiety. You have no idea how many times I pray this is something she can snap out of and that is when I say the wrong things. Never say, “I told you” instead repeat your response again. This will be tiring for you but a person with dementia does not remember that they are asking the same questions over and over. Forgive yourself when you lose patience. The good news is your loved one will not remember being mad at you.
Compassionate Lying for Dementia Caregiving
When lying helps my mom calm down then I am all for it. I struggled with telling her the truth and watching how she stressed out and got anxious. Telling a lie that will help her is the way to go at this point in our journey. You have to do what is right for you but I have tried it both ways and it is showing compassion if the lie puts her at ease.
Keeping it Happy and Fun
Never say, “You Can’t” instead say “Do what you can” The last thing I want to do is make her feel bad about herself. I want our time to be happy and fun. Mom had a bad day yesterday.My brother and sister-in-law took her for a drive and to lunch. It definitely helped. I ran out and did a few errands. I felt so much better after stepping away.
Never Argue with someone who has Dementia
This one is hard but you have to learn to agree with them. It causes your loved one severe anxiety to argue with them. Try to encourage and praise. Reasoning does not work! I promise you that if you spend a lot of time with your loved one who has dementia that there will be times you fail at this. Forgive yourself when this happens. You are human and there is no way possible that you can be sweet every minute of the day.
It is ok to step away and regroup. Just earlier today I had to excuse myself to go have a good cry. I am not ashamed to admit that I am not perfect. The thing is I know I am doing the very best I can. I am starting a course through Memory Care this week. It is called Caregiver College. This foot massager gives me a nice time out.
Shiatsu Foot Massager Machine with Heat – Electric Deep Kneading Massage Air Compression Stocking Stuffer – Circulation, Feet Legs, Plantar Fasciitis, Neuropathy Chronic Nerve Pain Therapy Spa Gift
INFRARED HEAT FUNCTION (might take several sessions to heat up) - Improve blood circulation, relieve muscle tension, tired feet, neuropathy, chronic nerve pain and plantar fasciitis by turning on the heat function.
ADJUSTABLE INTENSITY - Whether you just want an easy relaxing leg massage, or a deep tissue shiatsu kneading massage - you can easily adjust the intensity of the message and choose between 3 different pressure levels!
SHIATSU MASSAGE & AIR COMPRESSION - 2 independent foot chambers provide a wonderful combination of shiatsu kneading and rolling massage therapy, while the air pressure applies pressure to all parts of the foot.
Take care of yourself
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