Alzheimer’s…Dementia (cont.)

    It does no good to tell your Alzheimer’s patient that they are wrong about who they think you are or other wrong statements.  That will only confuse them.  Perhaps they believe a friend visiting for a few minutes is a long dead relative.  Don’t correct, just say “oh really” and change the subject to something else.  You can be very creative in answering without lying. 

Bad language

   How does a pastor, under the influence of Alzheimer’s disease, suddenly spew out all sorts of filthy words?  You are embarrassed for him but how to make it stop or slow down seems impossible.  Try turning on the old hymns and keeping them on softly in the room.  You will be amazed at how suddenly he will join in the songs and sing every word, and still not know who you are in person!

Never give up, be embarrassed or try to hide from your loved one whose mind is ‘misfiring’.

Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

We are not asked to understand, only to Trust!

Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia

Alzheimer’s…Dementia…Senility…How to deal with the consequences of a lost mind without losing yours!

Paraphrased from a reader who cared for his wife for almost 20 years: 

Sometimes when an Alzheimer’s patient is acting out or agitated, it may be that they are afraid. If you were ever lost as a child, you may remember how that little fear and panic began to set in and overcome you.  It is the same for an Alzheimer’s patient who is lost in their mind, because they may not know where they are or who they are.  Their agitation may be from their inability to communicate what they want or need.  Speak softly and calmly, holding their hand or giving them a hug if they will allow you to do so.

Make it a point to always stop by their chair, even if they are sleeping, to touch them, hold their hand and bend down quietly to speak in their ear of your love and support. Also, state your name in the same calm and loving voice.  Reinforce your name every time you interact with them.  It is not their fault, they cannot remember who you are, it is the disease.

Alzheimer's Disease and the Spouse

From a reader:  “The one thing I find different from what you wrote about is that this is a different relationship than between parent/child. This is a spouse and the emotions and feelings are much different. The Biblical principles are the same no matter if it is parent/child or spousal.  But it gets really hard at times watching my husband slowly fade away.  I don't always handle it well.  I have been used to him being the one to lean on, sharing thoughts and memories of good times.  Now, that is gone.”

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From a husband who cared for his wife with AD:  "No matter how well you prepare yourself, when that moment comes that your spouse does not recognize you, or thinks you are someone else, (who may be another family member or someone who is still in their memory bank), it is always difficult to handle emotionally.

I remember one gentleman in our support group who was very discouraged as he related the story how his wife no longer knew who he was and no longer wanted him in the house. She thought he was a stranger who had no business being there. He thought she was a totally different person and someone that he did not know.

We must remember that with an Alzheimer’s patient, it is not their fault or their choosing to have forgotten their spouse or loved one.  They are the same person whom we love, and they are the same person who loves us – but now they are not able to express that love because their AD has robbed them of that memory.  We need to show them the love and and care and respect as we always have in the past. An AD patient can understand what is being said around them so remember and be careful of your conversations."

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Thank you to both of these contributors regarding the experiences, hardships and rewards on the caregiving journey in the life of Dementia.  I will continue this topic next month as well.  I welcome your comments and discussions as well.

Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."