Feb 22, 2017

A Caregiver Must - Lend Your Brain to a Person Living with Dementia

Alzheimer's patients often forget how to perform normal tasks like taking a shower. For this reason alone - we must lend them our brain.

Alzheimer's robs the memory of a person living with dementia.

You have probably heard the saying - two heads are better than one.

Nothing could be more true when caring for someone living with dementia.

How To Get a Dementia Patient to Cooperate

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

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I took care of my mom, Dotty, from November 17, 2003 until the day she went to Heaven on May 25, 2012. 3,112 days. I understand how caregivers feel. I know how difficult and trying it can be for those of us who care.

One day Dotty looked at me and said, there is something wrong with my memory. Without thinking I went over to her smiled, sat down next to her, put my around her, and put my head on her head. Then I said, don't worry mom, I'll lend you my brain when you need it.

Late that night I started thinking about it; and, this is when I first realized I needed to become my mother's Guide.

From that point on I stopped using lots of words to try and convince her to cooperate and instead started guiding her. No more Blah Blah Blah.

No More Blah Blah Blah

I made a discovery. I could use nonverbal communication to get my mom to cooperate and do anything I wanted her to do.

It all starts with one of the most powerful nonverbal communications of them all - the Smile.

The importance of the smile in dementia care.
I learned to smile at my mom all the time, and to get that smile back. This does engender a feeling of connection between a caregiver and their loved one.

How the Smile is the Most Powerful Communication of Them All in Dementia Care

So when I wanted my mom to do something I would first engage her with a smile.

Next I would go over to her and stick out my hand palm up. I would wait for her to take my hand and then say - let's go. No explanation just 2 words.

She would get up and ask where are we going? I might say to have fun, or to go see Harvey, no more than 3 words. 3 words are always the maximum.

More often than not I was taking her to the bathroom to take a pee. I had to get Dotty to pee every 90 minutes. If not, the dreaded yellow river.

As we move along, hand in hand, I might say something like, we are going to talk to Harvey, but first let's take a pee. If she balked I would keep my mouth shut and keep on moving right into the bathroom.

By the way, I didn't say you have to take a pee. I said, let's take a pee. I wanted this to be a joint effort like we were both going to do it together. Sometimes I would leave her there, and go take care of my own business.

The next step I call the hook. So maybe we were going to talk to Harvey, or maybe Dotty was going to get one of her favorite snacks - like potato chips. Maybe it was lunchtime, or dinner time. Whatever, guide, use the smile and the palm of your hand.

If you don't know about Harvey - the world's greatest, bestest, most effective caregiver tool of them all - learn about him here.

The best way to lend you brain to a person living with Alzheimer's is to guide them. 

No more long winded explanations of why they should do what you want them to so. No more begging or cajoling. When you go Blah Blah Blah - they go NO No No. All you are really doing with all those words is confusing the person living with dementia. Once they get confused you get frustrated or worse.

Try it. You might have to practice a bit to get it down pat; but once you do the sun will come out and you'll feel a lot warmer - and kinder. The result you get will be, well, wonderful and rewarding.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Two heads are better than one. The premise is simple: We perform better by putting our heads together. By doing this you provide the information that is not currently available to a person living with dementia.