Did it every occur to you that you are the problem?
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
S/he says no all the time, they say.
It is very common for a person that is deeply forgetful to say "no" when you ask them to do something. I don't know why, but it seems like this is a secret to many in the dementia community.
Frankly, I knew for a long time when Dotty said "no" she didn't mean it. Nevertheless, it still drove me crazy, and often made me feel frustrated or angry.
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Then one day Dotty explained to me why the deeply forgetful say "no" so often.
Here is the background.
Dotty and I went to the pool late in the afternoon on a hot summer day. We were the only two people at the pool.
I said to Dotty, lets go in the pool. She said, "no". I explained to her how much we would enjoy it, how much she use to enjoy going into the pool, and another ten reasons why it would be good to go in the pool.
Key word so far, explained. Trying to explain to a person that is deeply forgetful does no work well. At least, that has been my experience.
I became so frustrated I said to Dotty, lets go home. When we arrived at the gate to the pool Dotty asked me, why didn't we go in the water?
I said, "because you didn't want to". Dotty gave me a look that said, "what the hell are you talking about".
I then said, I asked you if you wanted to go in several times and you said "no", repeatedly.
Dotty looked at me and said,
"you know when I say NO that doesn't mean anything, its just the easiest thing to say".
Later I gave this some considerable thought and realized, you can learn from the deeply forgetful if you listen.
When this happened I also realized that if you forget that a person is deeply forgetful and treat them the way you would treat a person in the real world, it is very likely that you will get very frustrated and spend a lot of time "venting".
On the other hand, if you take one giant step to the left and move into Alzheimer's World, you will begin to ask yourself, why do person living with dementia say "no" so often.
You might then begin to learn that you are the problem. That is right, you are the problem.
If might be as simple as this. Maybe you are talking too fast so the person that is deeply forgetful can't absorb all the information you are giving them. So they say "no".
When you are explaining to a person who is deeply how much fun that are going to have at the fourth of July picnic maybe they are hearing something very different. Maybe they are thinking you want to take them to a place where there will be a lot of people they don't know. Maybe they don't like the idea of being around a lot of people they don't know. So, they say the easiest word they know, "no".
Think of it this way. Wouldn't a person who wasn't demented ask things like who is going to be there? Do we need to take anything with us?
So, when a person who is deeply forgetful says "no" ask yourself this. Are they asking you questions before they say "no"? Or, do they explain the reasons to you why they are saying "no"? Its doubtful.
Most likely they give you an abrupt "no", and won't be able to explain why if you waste your time asking.
All of this also applies to things like taking a shower, or brushing teeth. You have to figure out why the person is saying "no".
Here is a tip. Say less. Stick out your hand and lead.
When it comes to the shower, I always use the "hook". I don't say, "lets take a shower". I say, "lets take a shower and then we will get something to eat".
So, we are not going to take a shower, we are going to get something "good" to eat, and the shower is only a step in the process.
In Alzheimer's World it is always best to look for the solution to problems by "looking at it from the perspective" of the person who is deeply forgetful.
Pretty soon you will accept that they are deeply forgetful and most of the stuff that is driving you crazy will become the normal, the norm.
You'll know you made it when you start to chuckle at yourself, or laugh as you tell a friend a story, instead of "venting".
Also see, The Key for Me is to NEVER Ask a Yes or No Question
- What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's (5 Best Tests)
- Alzheimer's Caregiving, It's All in the Palm of Your Hand
- Are Alzheimer's Caregivers the Forgotten?
- Alzheimer's Disease and the Five Stages of Grief
- Urinary Tract Infection, You Can Learn From My Experience
- Frightened, Bewildered, Apprehensive, Anxious, Angry
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 346,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
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