By: Alice Endy
See Dealing With Dementia Page
the common things I hear is, "She is not my mother anymore" or "I do
not know this person." You have to get past that to be helpful to your
I am sure you had times in your child raising years where you felt the
same, the terrible two’s, teen years, college years, or even into the
adult years, where you said to yourself," I do not know this person
It is a process of accepting your children at the stage they are at,
knowing that you are doing your best. Well, it is not any different
with your parent. Your parent will always be your parent. They just
act differently as they become more frail, more vulnerable, and child
I often look at my mother and see a three year old or a five year old
and it makes me feel good
to know that no matter what age (stage) she is today I will care for
her and love her as she is.
Behavioral Issues: Behavior is not intentional in Dementia.
Always look to the basics: hungry, thirsty, cold, toileting needs.
Pain-80% of the frail elderly have chronic pain that goes untreated.
Keep your phrases short and simple,” do you want apple juice or orange
juice?" Ask questions requiring a yes/no response. Allow LOTS of time
for a response. Allow choices as often as possible. Choices must be
appropriate to their level.
We do not ask the three year old if he wants to go to bed. We take him
to bed. Choices like, "Would you like to wear blue or yellow today?"
"Would you like tomato soup or chicken noodle soup?" These are an
example of stage appropriate choice I would give my mother.
Avoid statements such as, "Do you want to eat?" "Do you need to go to
the bathroom?" "Are you ready for your shower?" Those are given tasks
Do not ask if they want to go to the doctor, hairdresser,etc. Just
take them. Allow plenty of time for appointments. Dementia patients
will never move on your time table. Lots of extra time must be
allotted to get ready.
Dementia patients do much better with a fixed routine (just like your
kids.) Regular meal and snack times. (do not forget fluids.) Regular
shower time at their best time of the day. Regular bedtime. Avoid
mentioning an appointment ahead of time. Some people will stress on
that and ask repeated questions.
Use distraction to change a behavior. My mother has a habit of
clapping her hands loudly and repeatedly if she is not busy with
something. Sometimes just asking her a question breaks the pattern. At
other times having her fold clothes, play cards, look through a
magazine, or singing a song will also break the pattern. Activities
are a must. Some communities have a senior center with activities or
adult day care centers that often do a great job with activities.
Find activities that your parent enjoys, walks, folding laundry,
washing dishes, playing cards, etc. Be creative. "Remember Times" I
learned all sorts of family history and fun stuff when my mother was
in her earlier years of dementia. We would do "remember time."
We would talk about family, how she meet my father, their first date,
WWII, the Depression era, etc. Today, my mother is in her 12th year of
Alzheimer's and she does not remember the past. Now she likes us to
tell her the family stories.
THINGS TO AVOID
Do not try to reason with the dementia person. They are unable to
reason. Do not take their behavior personally. They are not doing it
to you, they are just doing it. Do not confront or correct. Leave the
room if you have too.
Do not argue. You are arguing to a blank wall!
Do not talk about your parent in front of them.
Do not ask them or expect them to have recent memory.
Statements like, "I just answered that question"
or, "don't you remember? Remember the "blank wall"!
Remember, between you and your parent, YOU are the one that has to
change, accept, grow, and love them through to the end.
When all is said and done you will never regret
this time spent caring for your elder. Allow this time to be as fun as
possible-find your humor and use it in the daily activities of
caregiving. And yes, it is a very difficult job caring for your
Arm yourself with support groups and learn all you can about your
parent's dementia. Do not become the " Lone Ranger". Reach out, ask
for help, hire a babysitter, etc. Just like you did for your kids, you
can do this.
About the Author:
Alice Endy is a Registered Nurse with advanced certification as a
Gerontological Nurse. Alice has helped thousands provide care and
support to their elder family members. Alice has been a caregiver for
her Mother who is in her twelfth year of Alzheimer’s Disease. http://www.AskNurseAlice.com
Webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
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