Mar 24, 2017

1 Thing Caregivers Need to Understand About People Living with Dementia, They Are Deeply Forgetful

The tendency is to focus in on what Alzheimer's patients can't do; rather than, on what they can do.

The tendency in dementia care is to focus in on what Alzheimer's patients can't do; rather than, on what they can do.

This focus on what dementia patients cannot do brings on feelings of hopelessness.

New Alzheimer's caregivers and the general public often assume that the situation for Alzheimer's and dementia patients is hopeless. 

Others describe themselves as feeling a deep sense of anger or grief - Alzheimer's Care and Grief, Types, Stages and Symptoms

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

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If you think negatively it is likely that you will act negatively. On the other hand, if you think positively, and focus on what a person living with dementia can do, rather than on what they can't do, you are more likely to be calm, kind, and understanding.

One of my biggest breakthroughs as an Alzheimer's caregiver came when I started thinking of my mother as

Deeply Forgetful

I finally realized that I was attaching the stigma that comes with Alzheimer's to my own mother. I was stigmatizing my own mother.

I was continually telling people my mother has Alzheimer's. And what feedback would I get? Mostly something that was the equivalent of that's horrible. So over and over my brain was getting negative feedback, on top of the difficulties and negativity that can come with Alzheimer's.

I mean who was I really blaming? My mother or the Alzheimer's. I thought I was blaming Alzheimer's; but, was I?

I had to find a way to get rid of the stigma. So I started thinking what is the real problem. Eventually I got it right.

I finally realized that a person living with dementia is nothing more or nothing less than

Gee thinking of my mother in this way really took the pressure off me; and more importantly, off my brain.

It also lead me to another conclusion - what we should really be doing is things that are good for the brain. So I started doing some research.

I concluded we should start eating a Mediterranean Diet.  It turned out this was an excellent idea for both of us. We both started losing weight, and I had a lot more energy. Dotty also seemed happier.

We went into the gym and started doing real exercise. Imagine my 90 year old mother working out on weight machines. It is a lot easier than you think to get a person living with Alzheimer's to exercise - even on a treadmill.

Do you know how many caregivers told me their loved one wouldn't be able to do it? They told me this and they hadn't even tried. Of course they were drinking the Kool-Aid - that I had stopped drinking. They bought into the stigma attached to Alzheimer's disease.

The next thing I did was try to find new and better ways to keep my mother socialized.

If you read up you will hear the typical stigmas - they don't like to be around a lot of people, you can't take them out, they don't want to go. I could type the hundreds of excuses I heard over the years but its easier for me to say, they drank the stigma flavored Alzheimer's Kool-Aid. Just so you know, the color of this Kool-Aid is purple.

Over the years I took my mother out almost every Friday so she could be around a lot of people.

Actually, I decided we would do what we would have normally done in the old days. No stigma. I took my deeply forgetful mother out and guess what happened next? She made new dementia friends. Not people with dementia - new friends. I made new friends also. These people were really wonderful to us.

Here is the bottom line. I took Alzheimer's out of the equation.
  1. I Forgot MY Mother Had Alzheimer's.
  2. I learned that she was Deeply Forgetful.
  3. I stopped drinking the stigmatising  Kool-Aid.
  4. I started to believe we could Live our Life, and we did.
For those of you that are new to this blog, I wrote about all of this while it was happening. More than 30,000 people decided to follow my lead. They decided they had had enough, and they were ready to do something about it.

Most of them started by telling me what worked for me, wouldn't work for them. But then, one by one they stopped drinking the purple Kool-Aid. In doing so, many of them stepped off the path of burden and onto the path called Joy.

If you are sick and tired of complaining do what I did - Rewire Your Brain.

When you have the time read (or reread) these articles and give it some thought.

Related Articles

Rewiring My Brain and Stepping into Alzheimer's World

Alzheimer's Care, The Power of Purpose in Our Lives

How to listen to an Alzheimer's patient

Connecting with a Person Living with Dementia

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

Understanding dementia patient meanness

How to Understand the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Water is Invisible and Disconcerting to Dementia Patients

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About 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 Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

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*** Empathy the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

*** Compassion a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate their suffering.

*** Caregiver is a person who gives help and protection to someone who is sick or in need.

*** Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well being defined by positive emotions ranging from contentment to joy. Happy mental states also reflect judgement by a person about their overall well being.

*** Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. A heightened feeling of happiness.