If you have people coming over for Father's day, or, if you are taking your father somewhere (to another home) that he is no longer familiar with, this can sometimes create anxiety on the part of the person living with dementia. What can you do?
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Don't allow confusion, anxiety, or frustration to take over.
Topic - Dementia Care
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This anxiety that we feel on Father's Day is often a two way street. By this I mean, the person living with dementia might experience anxiety due to the environment. You or your family might start feeling anxiety if your loved one starts asking to go home, or continually asks what is going on. I think you know what I mean.
1. Always be Kinder Than You Feel.
This might seem odd, but I learned that in most cases you have to meet mean, disconcerting, or hurtful behavior on the part of a person living with dementia with the exact opposite kind of behavior.
Trying to explain what is going on, trying to cajole, or trying to tell you loved one how they should act just won't work. It will not relieve their anxiety or stress. Just be Kind.
Meet meanness with an equal and opposite reaction - be kind.
Whether they need the smile right now or not - just give it. And, give the smile generously.
The best technique is to look right into their eyes, hold their hand and smile. Talk is cheap in this example. So just use nonverbal communication. Smile, hold hands, and keep quiet. If the going gets tough remember this.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.
3. Reassurance goes a long long way.
Constant reassurance really works well. How about a nice hug every 30 minutes or so. I don't mean one of those "mail it in" hugs.
Dig in. Both hands on back, cheek to cheek. and cling. Give a little squeeze.
Never forget this. It is a scientific fact that a hug reduces stress and anxiety. A good hug also increases self esteem.
Remember, it is Father's day. And even if your father (or grandfather) doesn't remember Father's Day - you do. It's his day.
Don't allow anything to get in the way. Make it a great day.
The take away? You did it and you'll be the one remembering this day.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR).
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