When you step into Alzheimer's World you soon realize that a person living with dementia is not the enemy, they are our loved one's.
I was searching for my mom. The old mom. The one I knew before Alzheimer's came into our life.
I couldn't find her. Then one day I stepped into Alzheimer's World, and there she was.
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By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
It happens to most of us, when Alzheimer's strikes we start complaining. Some people call it "venting". But when we do it day in and day out its complaining.
We often drive people away with our negativity. They can't listen to it any more. They disappear. That is the easiest thing for them to do. Don't get me wrong, there are those who will listen and commiserate.
How do I know this. I know this because I was you. I took care of my mom, Dotty, for eight and a half years. 3,112 days.
One night I had an epiphany. I realized that no matter how kind, caring and positive I was it wasn't working. In fact, all I was doing was making things worse. Imagine.
And then all of a sudden I realized I had to make it to a new place. I had to change. I called this place Dotty's World, and then Alzheimer's World. It was right there all the time.
I suddenly realized caring for Dotty wasn't about me. All my venting was about me. What was wrong with me?
I should have been focusing more on my mom. I wanted to find her. I found her in Alzheimer's World.
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Alzheimer's World is a kind and gentle place. A place where instead of trying to explain, you start to watch, look and listen. You ask yourself why. Why is my loved one doing this? You ask yourself when. When does it happen - same time of day every day?
Pretty soon things start to make sense. The anxiety and stress start to melt away. You can finally operate. You learn how to understand, then cope and communicate. You stop complaining (well not completely).
You might be thinking how do I find Alzheimer's World. Where is it? Believe it not, it is one giant step to your left. Is ithard to get there? No its not. Thousands of readers in the Alzheimer's Reading Room have already made it there. I know this because they let me know. They all pretty much say the same thing. Thank goodness!
When you step to the left, big giant step, you say in your head - Alzheimer's World. You alert your brain that you are going in. You are there.
In Alzheimer's World its all about your loved one. Why do they do this? Why do they do that? How are they feeling? Stop reacting to their behavior instead lean up against the wall. Keep your mouth shut, and pay attention.
Ask yourself, why, what, when, where, how. You will soon be amazed. You are in their World, the world of your loved one. There they are - been there all the time just waiting for you to find them.
Care is not about a miserable life. Care is about understanding and taking care of a person who is very dear to you. Care is not a science, its an art.
Your loved one is not the enemy. Try to remember that.
Your loved one is fragile. Your loved one is easily and often confused. How do you think you would feel if you couldn't remember today? What you did today? Did you eat, or are you starving?
How would you feel if you didn't know what was coming next today? Or, how to find your favorite TV channel; or, how to make a telephone call. Go ahead ask yourself, how would you feel?
You would feel bent out of shape to say the least. Well there you go, your loved one is all bent out of shape - all the time. Well not all the time, because once you make to the World you will learn how to help keep them in shape. And yes, they will respond in way that you might not be able imagine right now - they will become kinder and gentler. And most importantly, you will finally realize what I realized - they love you more. They know what you are doing - you are their life line. Pat yourself on the back. If I meet you, I'll give you a hug.
I am going to list some custom searches below. This will lead you to most of my intellectual capital, and the intellectual capital of others who have hands on experience with dementia patients.
There is a saying
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink
I'm leading you to the water. Drink, don't drink, its up to you.
I can promise you this - start drinking and once you get some positive results you are going to get very thirsty. That is the way it works around here. The thirst to become the best caregiver you can be.
By the way. Once you get going in Alzheimer's World one of the first things you will notice is the stress and anxiety you are feeling begins to melt away. Gets reduced for certain.
So like I said, I was looking all over the place for my mom. Searching for her. Little did I know she was right there all the time. Right there living in Alzheimer's World.
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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.
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