Because of our experience at Support For Home providing in-home care to folks suffering from a variety of chronic illnesses, including dementia, we were invited by TreatmentDiaries to participate in their site. The site is primarily for individuals and families, so being invited as an agency is a compliment we take to heart. I checked it out, and it looks like a good one. The honesty and caring of the individuals whose postings I have read thus far are excellent.
One such entry is so familiar to us, as a home care agency, working with family caregivers. Below is a portion of that posting, and our response:
Posting: Dealing with a loved one who has dementia is like living with Jeckel & Hyde. We can usually tell by the look on her face when she gets up in the morning if it’s going to be an OK day. But generally, she becomes stubborn, angry, suspicious, demanding & irate if she doesn’t understand something or agree with you. There is no compromise when the wheels are turning in this direction. It’s was my understanding that one should not pacify her thoughts if they are wrong – that we should maintain reality of the issue & reinforce the truth. That doesn’t seem to work either. Diversified activities only lend to a brief break, but she will always pick up where she left off. Any suggestions for pulling her out of this negative behavior when she has it? Other than walking away & ignoring it – that only frustrates the care-giver more – feel defeated – coping tools where are thou?
From Support For Home: I am not sure from where the advice about reinforcing the truth – and our own reality – as opposed to hers has come, but in our experience it is dubious at best and counter-productive, at worst.
Redirection is the primary technique for caring for a dementia sufferer. If I have lost memories to the point that I insist I am going “home,” to a place you know I lived 30 years ago, the key is that the intervening memories are gone. They cannot be reinforced if they know longer exist.
It is extremely hard for family members to accept, but the fact is it is a disease. I am not going to be able to go back to the time before I was diabetic. Nor am I going to recover memories that dementia has destroyed. Look to accept the disease, support the sufferer – and that is her, not us – and redirect the behaviors to protect her and you.
Bert Cave, Support For Home, Sacramento
Check out TreatmentDiaries if you or a loved one is suffering from a chronic disease. There are a great many represented at the site. A very good forum for exchanges – and sometimes just venting! 🙂
Best wishes, Bert