May 31, 2016

How to Accept Alzheimer's and Operate in Alzheimer's World

The Alzheimer's patient starts to feel different. They feel your acceptance. Instead of thinking you are the enemy, they start to feel that you are the protector. Their security blanket.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

It is very difficult to understand a person living with dementia, but understand them we must.
When a person has Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia they are often difficult to deal with.

The behaviors they express are often difficult to accept.

As caregivers we just don't understand them very well.

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It can be hard to deal with a person living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. It is hard to understand that a person can't remember. Harder to accept that when they can't remember, they will do things that are completely foreign to our personal frame of reference.

Each of us has emotions and feelings. Alzheimer's has a way of bringing out the worst of these feelings and emotions in us.

The challenge -- learning to deal with a person living with Alzheimer's on their own terms. Learning to deal with Alzheimer's disease.

Many caregivers come to the conclusion that the person living with Alzheimer's is not the person they knew. The person they knew most or all of their life. Is it possible to deal with a stranger? Is this supposed stranger likable?

Can you like someone that continually makes you angry, frustrated and sad?

Let me ask you a simple question. Is caregiving about you how you feel? Or, is it about bringing to the person who needs you so much the highest quality of life possible?

Frankly it is about both of you. However, the person living with dementia can't change; so it is up to you to learn how to change and adapt.

The person living with dementia can not help the way they act. They are easily confused, they get angry, and they can't sort things out. Trying to explain to them that they are wrong, or wrong in their thinking won't work. Have you been trying to explain the situation to a person living with dementia. Does it work? It won't work and all it usually does is make you more frustrated and the person living with dementia less happy.

A good way to handle situations is by reminding yourself this is my Mom, this is my Dad, this is my Husband, this is my Wife.

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

I finally learned to accept Alzheimer's disease and to deal with my mom by conceptualizing a new and different world -- Alzheimer's World. For reasons that are hard to explain, once I started understanding this parallel world, I started feeling calmer. Amazingly, as I became calmer so did my mother Dotty.

In Alzheimer's World, all the new, different, and disconcerting behaviors that come with Alzheimer's are the norm. The normal. Behaviors that you come to expect and accept.

When you step into this parallel universe, you start to accept these behaviors. With acceptance comes understanding and peace of mind.

Once you accept and understand, the environment changes. Everything slows down. You slow down. Instead of feeling chaos and stress, you start to feel comfortable.

The Alzheimer's patient starts to feel different also. They feel your acceptance. Instead of thinking you are the enemy, they start to feel that you are the protector. Their security blanket.

Did you ever wonder why most Alzheimer's patients stick like glue to their caregiver? Call out their name when they can't see them? Want to know where you are when they can't see you?

This happens because you are the security blanket. You are the one person that makes a person suffering from Alzheimer's feel secure. You are their attachment to the World. A world that at times seems scary, confusing, and unnerving to them.

Some caregivers might conclude that a person living with Alzheimer's is not the person they knew. Let's flip the coin.

What is the person living with Alzheimer's feeling? I suspect they might be feeling you are the only person they can trust. The only person they can rely on through thick and thin.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

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