We assume that everyone sees the world just like we do. Not True!
This article is composed of excerpts from Bob DeMarco’s excellent website, Alzheimer’s Reading Room, one of the best sources of practical information for caregivers of people who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
“Changing the way we think and speak about dementia can change how we see our role and how we perform that role. How you live with dementia depends completely on your own attitude. We cannot change the condition itself, but we can change how we approach this enormous challenge in our lives.
“We are still in a relationship, even a partnership with the person we love who has dementia. However, we are the only partner in this relationship who can decide how to think, how to behave, what to believe, how to cope.
“The person living with dementia, obviously, is being propelled on a journey over which they have very little or no control. We still have control (even though it may often feel that we don’t).
“We can still make attitude adjustments, course corrections, seek help and ask for respite for a few hours or a few days. The person living with dementia has none of these choices available to them.
“This isn’t simple to do, but it is necessary — you need to start accepting that when a person who is deeply forgetful says something they believe to be true, it is in fact a reality for them. It is their reality.
“When they continually repeat themselves they do it because they can’t remember. There is no sinister plot here. Brain sick, Brain not functioning properly.
“Welcome to Alzheimer’s World.
“Don’t be afraid or reluctant to step into this new and very different world. In Alzheimer’s World, reality takes on a different shape. Reality in Alzheimer’s World is a reflection of what the person living with Alzheimer’s thinks and believes. It is this reality that you must focus on, not the way YOU think things are, or should be.
“I feel confident when I say this: you won’t be able to convince a person who is deeply forgetful that they are wrong, and you won’t be able to convince them that your reality is the true reality. They can’t remember like you or me, so they really cannot comprehend your point of view.
“When you do this you are asking the person who is deeply forgetful to come back into your world. They cannot do this.
“Instead of creating a secure, safe, calm environment, you are perpetuating a state of agitation and angst. When you do this it only gets worse over time. Not better. The person living with Alzheimer’s would adjust if they could — they can’t.
“[On the other hand,] when you make it to Alzheimer’s World you begin the process of redefining reality. Instead of trying to browbeat your loved one back into your reality, you start to interact with them based on their view of reality.
“Instead of reacting to her behavior I asked myself some simple questions: Why is she doing this, What is the catalyst of the behavior? I also asked myself, why are you getting bent out of shape?
“I told myself, you will be seeing these behaviors often, over and over so to speak. If that is the case, aren’t they the “new normal?” Much of what was driving Dotty’s [Bob’s mother] behavior was deep forgetfulness. She just forgot how to do things. As a result, she started doing things the best way she could.”
Patience — Mindfulness — Touch — Hugs — They all work wonders.