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Re: Ideas on how to develop patience

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Message 11 of 13

Thank you so much for the tip about validating your loved one's efforts.  My wife, now 87, has had dementia for 5 and a half years now, and though her memory is worse, her attitude has mellowed at the same time. She used to be a professional cook and created delicious meals for us, but we're reduced to surviving on my poor efforts now.  I realize she feels unneeded and she always asks if there is anything she can help with, but I always refuse as she invariably does whatever task required incorrectly and adds to the work.  I do give her laundry to fold and she likes that, but I don't allow her to do much more than that preferring to do all other chores on my own.

The thing that worries me most about her is her balance problem and inability to walk normally, using jerky baby steps. I got her two, three wheel walkers, one for upstairs, one for down, and she falls less often, but she constantly walks away from the walkers and after a time finds herself unable to go any further. She falls on average once a day, but my constant nagging has helped her use the walkers more often than not. She is a very tiny, 4' 10", 100 lbs Japanese, who somehow has avoided breaking any bones in her falls, though she has many bruises to show for it.  I didn't realize how easily she bruises until I noticed a bruise where she got her flu shot this year. I had been giving her a calcium citrate supplement every other day ever since her stomach cancer operation in 2001, and that might have helped strengthen her bones but I discontinued them after I read that too much calcium might lead to kidney stones.  She had her gall bladder out several years ago after developing stones.

Can you give me any help on how to curtail her non use of her walkers?  Or any other things that might help us get through this with fewer injuries?  Thank you.

I might add that despite the fact I'm 10 years her junior, that both my knees are painful and I walk with a walker in the house and a cane outdoors and am now only able to lift her with difficulty.

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Re: Ideas on how to develop patience

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Message 12 of 13

@LaurenS917638 Hi Lauren - I can totally identify with your challenge! I cared for my grandmother who had Alzheimer's back in the 1990's and more recently cared for my Dad who had it also for about 10 yrs intensively (he lived with me for the past 6 years) and several years before that from a distance. 

 

Here are a few things that have helped me and that I've learned from other caregivers throughout my own caregiving journey and my career of 35 years in the field of aging, including many years working in adult day health centers:

  • Validate - When someone has dementia, there comes a time when it doesn't help to try to correct them convince them of what is "right". You start to see that they just can't grasp it. What is logical to us just will not formulate as logical because their brain isn't working quite right. So it's more effective to use a "validation" approach. Validate where they are coming from. So if your loved one puts out too much silverware, instead of saying that's not right and putting it away, you might say, "Wow - we must be having a lot of visitors for dinner! You're doing such a great job of setting the table thank you! Who would you like to have for dinner?" Get a conversation going about friends and loved ones; validate the fact that the job she is doing is important and of course she wants so badly to do it right and compliment her. When you tell her that it's not right or remove the silverware it probably feels like a failure to her, she's wrong again, she's losing control of everything in her life, you are doing something mean to her etc. Try to think about her perspective, even if it doesn't seem "right" to you. 
  • Don't remove - replace - Any time your loved one has ahold of something or is doing a task that you want to change, try to replace objects rather than just remove them. For example, with the silverware...If she gets out too much silverware, get out the napkins and hand her the napkins before or as you take away the silverware, and give her another task to do. 
  • Divert - Sometimes a diversion is the best tactic - (the remove/replace is really a diversion tactic) change the subject to something she likes to talk about, ask her to do another task, sing a song (that ALWAYS worked for my Dad - he loved to sing!), turn on a TV show she likes, ask her to fold some towels etc. etc. 
  • Change your mindset - I made the decision to expect questions to be asked multiple times and pretend it was the first time I was asked the question every single time they asked it. This is a skill it does take some time to cultivate! But you can do it! You might vary your answers some, but it helped me to look at it as the norm for the questions to be asked multiple times. I'm sure it's hard for you to imagine right now, but later, when Dad didn't talk as much, I would have given anything for him to ask me the same questions 5-6 times! I knew that would be the case (from my past experience) so that kind of helped me to be more Ok with it - and actually kind of value the fact that he was engaged and communicating. 

I hope these approaches help you! Please keep us posted and let us know if you have any other questions! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

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Ideas on how to develop patience

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Message 13 of 13

Can anyone give me some tips on how to hone skills in being patient.  Awfully hard when you've answered the same question 5 or 6 times in a row.  Or your loved one starts doing behaviors you don't understand - like pulling far more silverware than needed from the drawer, placing it on the table, and then getting so hysterically upset with you when you try to move it.  Or blames you when she misplaces something or puts it somewhere -  "where did you put it?"  

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