Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alzheimer's Robbed Us of Our Ability to Communicate


Our communication and the way we related to each other changed - abruptly, over night. It was as if our ability to communicate effectively had been robbed from us.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Robbed Us of Our Ability to Communicate

I knew and understood the changes that were being caused by Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, my mother couldn't see the change. She couldn't understand what was happening.

When my mother would say something mean, or act out crazy behavior, I experienced the same emotions that most Alzheimer's caregivers experience -- anger, frustration, and agitation.

Over the course of my life I had learned how to cope and deal with problems. They no longer worked  with a person living with dementia.

Looking in from the outside at Alzheimer's, most people would conclude its easy to come to an understanding that the meanness and craziness are a direct result of the disease -- Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's causes these erratic behaviors.

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Outsiders often conclude you simply adjust and come to an understanding that Alzheimer's is the cause of the behavior, and as a result you can just shrug off the meanness and craziness.

This is far from the truth and the reality of the situation. 

It is almost impossible to explain to someone how difficult this adjustment can be. How difficult? It took me years. Years while I was trying to do it day after day after day. Every day.

I finally made the leap when I first discovered Alzheimer's World. I started to develop pictures of the behavior, and finally came to some simple conclusions.

I had to change my mother couldn't.

I had to find a way to get into Alzheimer's World, instead of trying to drag her back into Real World. She wasn't coming back. Never.

Here is how our life looked before Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's World -- Two Circles Trying to Intersect

My mother had her life. I had my life. Our lives clearly intersected and we had all of our shared experiences stored in the intersection of the two circles.

We had an understanding and frame of reference that we developed over our lives. We knew each other very well. We knew how to deal with each other.

After Alzheimer's struck, this is what our life looked like.

Alzheimer's World -- Two Circles Trying to Intersect

It was like we were two new and different people. I guess you could say, we had to get to know each other again.

I thinks its obvious that when you first meet someone it takes time to get to know them. Over a long period of time you get to know and understand them -- better and better.

In this case, I had to find a way to accept and deal with my mother's new found behaviors. Behaviors that were hard to understand, comprehend, and out of the normal compared to our long life together.

The challenge. How to learn how to accept; rather than, becoming angry, frustrated, confused, and bent out of shape.

There are only two choices. Walk away and hand the problem to someone else. Or, learn how to love and care for someone that does things that would normally would make you do what you would do in choice one -- walk away.

You have to choose. You can choose change and understanding. Or, you can try what I call the hamster approach -- The Alzheimer's Hamster Within YOU.  Run around the hamster wheel faster and faster, and get no where fast.

If you choose the hamster approach you'll most likely end up bitter and angry, or worse -- depressed.

You are the one that must decide.

I finally came to the conclusion that before I could make the leap into this new world, Alzheimer's World, I needed to construct a new mind set. A new place in my brain.

I was finally coming to an understanding of what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. But in order to conceptualize my current situation, and future goal I needed a new construct of our relationship.

This is how I began to picture my new relationship with my mother.

Alzheimer's World -- Two Circles Trying to Intersect

The yellow section is the intersection of my mother's world (red circle), and my world (green circle).

I call this yellow intersection Alzheimer's World.

In the Alzheimer's Reading Room, I write about my own efforts to understand, cope, and deal effectively with Alzheimer's.

If you would like to gain an understanding of my views, my own metamorphosis with Alzheimer's, my insights from the early years of caring -- go here.

If you want to learn more about Communication in Alzheimer's World search the Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base. Look for the Knowledge Base search box on the right hand side of the page. You can start by entering these keywords into the search box - Alzheimer's World - or - communication.

I continue to develop articles on Alzheimer's World, and how over time I developed a plan to make the leap into Alzheimer's World.

How I learned to get into Alzheimer's World, how I learned to function in Alzheimer's World; and how together, my mother and I learned to thrive in Alzheimer's World.

Dotty and I learned how to live our life one day at a time. We coped and communicated with each other  in the intersection of our lives best described as -- Alzheimer's World.

Once we entered Alzheimer's World we stepped off of the path of burden and on to the path of Joy.

It was not obvious to us at the very beginning where we were going, so you have to walk the path for a while until your new and improved method of communication starts to take hold.

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The Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR) offers a searchable Knowledge Base that contains over 4,800 articles. Those article, as well as our featured articles, are offered free of charge to the entire Alzheimer's community via the ARR website.