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. Never reason instead of divert. 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.
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Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey: A Guide for Families and Caregivers, Fifth Edition, Revised and Expanded
The beloved best seller has been revised and expanded for the fifth edition. Jolene Brackey has a vision: that we will soon look beyond the challenges of Alzheimer's disease to focus more of our energies on creating moments of joy. When people have short-term memory loss, their lives are made up of moments. We are not able to create perfectly wonderful days for people with dementia or Alzheimer's, but we can create perfectly wonderful moments, moments that put a smile on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes. Five minutes later, they will not remember what we did or said, but the feeling that we left them with will linger. The new edition of Creating Moments of Joy is filled with more practical advice sprinkled with hope, encouragement, new stories, and generous helpings of humor. In this volume, Brackey reveals that our greatest teacher is having cared for and loved someone with Alzheimer's and that often what we have most to learn about is ourselves.
This simple, easy to read, 100 page guidebook helps family members, friends, and caregivers to better understand the changes that come with advancing dementia or other impairments in thinking, reasoning or processing information. It also reinforces the impact of Teepa Snow's guidance and person-centered care interventions including the GEMS and Positive Approach to Care techniques. The goal is to provide better support and care practices when someone is living with an ever-changing condition. By appreciating what has changed but leveraging what is still possible, care partners can choose interactions that are more positive, communication that is more productive, and care that is more effective and less challenging for all involved.