A simple question. Are persons afflicted with dementia inherently mean?
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The answer is no, and studies prove it.
In spite of this you will hear caregivers, especially those who are new to the game, complaining (sometimes referred to as venting) over and over about the same thing.
What can you do?
- Look for patterns of bad behavior, and when they are happening.
- Establish a daily routine.
- Introduce activities into your day that keep dementia patients occupied.
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1. Identify the Patterns of Behavior
One of the most effective things I did as a caregiver is start keeping track (writing down) the negative episodes that my mother would perform each day.
I started to realize that many of these difficult behaviors happened around the same time each day.
For example, my mother would get up around 9:37 PM, get all agitated, and say she had to clean our home. She did not do this at any other time during the day.
How did I solve this problem? Ice Cream.
Around 9:15 I would start moving my mother to our kitchen. I would get her settled in, give her a smile, and engage her in some conversation. Around 9:30 PM I would ask, would you like some ice cream. The answer was always the same. She loved ice cream.
A little conversation, a few smiles, and a dose of ice cream solved the problem. It went away and never came back.
I would use a similar tactic when my mother would get that dull, mean, I'm not here look on her face during the day. I used potato chips to solve that problem.
Look for patterns of bad behavior and find a way to segway into a more positive behavior or activity. It took me 18 months to figure out the solution to the night time problem. Once I did, I started applying a similar solution to each and every problem.
2. Establish a Daily Routine
Nothing is more important than the daily routine. Persons afflicted with dementia do not have a good sense of time. As a result, they tend to fall out of the daily routine they used before the diagnosis. You can look back to what it was they were use to doing; and then, incorporate some of those things into their daily routine.
As you establish a routine take it one step at a time. Eventually you should come up with a routine that covers the entire day. Do the same thing, at the same time, every day when possible.
If your love one read the newspaper in the morning, organize the newspaper and put it in front of them. Ask them to read to you from the newspaper.
If your loved one went to the store at a certain time of the day - take them to the store.
You should get out and around every day. Walking is good if they can do it, and the weather permits. A ride in the car is always good. Talk about the scenery or whatever you can. Keep you loved one engaged in conversation.
One of my favorites was talking my mother to Walmart and have her follow me around in the motorized shopping cart. At first I thought she might be unable to do it. I was wrong. We did this for over 5 years and we never had a problem.
Think about what your loved one liked to do. Then go do it. If you need to modify the daily routine a bit for them, modify it. Make things more simple to do if necessary.
3. Incorporate Activities into Your Day
If you incorporate activities into your day -
This will set you free.
The more activities the happier your loved one becomes, and the happier you become.
Harvey could entertain Dotty for hours at a time. You won't believe what Dotty would say to Harvey. Sometimes very funny, sometimes very enlightening. Get your own Harvey and find out for yourself. If you don't have a Harvey or something similar then you are not trying hard enough - stop complaining and get into action.
Things that dementia patients love:
Baby dolls. You don't have to spend $100 or more on a baby doll. Rachael Wonderlin told me the one you can buy for under $30 at Toys Our Us works just as well. Look for something that is as real life as you can find.
A Shop for Mom
I absolutely loved this idea from one of our contributors.
Create a Life Map
Another great idea from one of our readers.
Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 5,100 articles and 407,000 links. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
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