Nov 8, 2014

Why Are the Little Things So Annoying

Many of the things that persons living with Alzheimer's do, and say, often seem odd to us. Why do we allow them to annoy us?

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Our long time reader Jocelyn once asked,

"Why is it that it is usually the little things that are so annoying?

Why Are the Little Things So Annoying

With Christmas on the horizon and during this time of year I thought it might be useful to give this issue some thought.

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Many of the things that persons living with Alzheimers do, and say, often seem odd to us. There is no doubt that dementia patients often see things differently in Alzheimer's World.

Why are the behaviors so disconcerting and unsettling to us?

Why do we let behaviors that we should have come to expect bother us? Over time we should learn that we are going to see and hear these behaviors over and over.

Wouldn't it be easier if we looked at the world from the viewpoint of the person living with dementia and accepted them as normal?

They are, of course, normal in a world filled with Alzheimer's - in Alzheimer's World.

It might be useful to ask yourself, "Why am I allowing the little things to bother me." Annoy me.

I learned while caring for Dotty that once I began to accept and understand that these new, unexpected behaviors were normal for a person living with Alzheimer's I was able to make it to the new world, Alzheimer's World.

Reader Bswahlen wrote,
My husband and I have started saying "What harm will it do" when his mom's behavior drives us crazy. This reminds us that if the activity will not cause her or anyone else harm and she is happy, then we leave it alone and don't worry.
Reader Edward W. "Ted" Gilliland wrote,
There are really a lot of things in life that do not really matter. It struck me as a therapist that it is not only true in Alzheimer's World, but also true of many of our healthy family and friends. As I write this, Lola sits across the room and babbles and sometimes screams. The sound is annoying and constant, but it is only important that I get a break. It isn't harming anything. I comfort her from time to time. It seems to be getting more constant. This too will probably pass.
Reader HarrietSW wrote,
If it isn't harmful or dangerous, don't sweat it! And think of your own growth....learning to accept "quirks" as the right of others to do/think independently. Betcha didn't think that quirks and wacky would be so much a part of your world now.
Reader Jocelyn also wrote,
Why is it that it is usually the little things that are so annoying. I used to get so annoyed with Paul as he would sit down at the table before I had a chance to push his chair in close, I kept trying to get him to wait until I said it is okay to sit down then one day it came to me to pull the table closer to him once he is sitting down (we only have a small table), works fine, he is happy & I am no longer stressing about such a little thing.
As it turned out that was an AHA moment for many of us. Such a simple solution to an annoying problem. Bunkhouse logic at its best.

Reader Trish wrote,
'Dad' 'mutilates, folds and spindles' the photos that he is given...They go in his pocket. Finally said that's OK and we photocopy pictures...he doesn't need the glossy prints. The 'bird' flash cards are also bent and stuffed in his pockets... 6 months ago I would have patiently explained how to use them, now I just smile. He loves to shuffle, fold, tear the things he likes...
So simple, so caring.

Here is a reminder from Dotty that I hope you will put to good use during this holiday season. This is a rewind.

Went to Heaven May 25, 2012

Dotty's Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia
  1. You know what makes me feel safe, secure, and happy? A smile.
  2. Did you ever conside this? When you get tense and uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.
  3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and perfectly nutty to you, why not just smile at me? It will take the edge off the situation all the way around.
  4. Please try to understand and remember it is my short term memory, my right now memory, that is gone -- don't talk so fast, or use so many words.
  5. You know what I am going to say if you go off into long winded explanations on why we should do something? I am going to say No, because I can never be certain if you are asking me to do something I like, or drink a bottle of castor oil. So I'll just say No to be safe.
  6. Slow down. And don't sneak up on me and start talking. Did I tell you I like smiles?
  7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. What is going to happen if you start blabbering away and you don't have my attention, or confuse me? I am going to say No - count on it.
  8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?
  9. Sometimes you talk to me like I am a child or an idiot. How would you like it if I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don't come back and tell me you are sorry, I won't know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along very well, and probably better than you think.
  10. You talk too much -- instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me all the time.
The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. 
~ Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

God bless you all.

You are the best - you know.

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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 ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,960 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
    To learn more about Alzheimer's and dementia visit the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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