This is the third item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. It took some time for me to learn this and I feel like its a partner to tip #2 to not say “remember” — they go together.
I recognize this “don’t” is sadly one of my righteous habits. I know that it has softened over time but growing up in a smarty-pants family where debate was encouraged, we got in the habit of pulling apart arguments plank by plank.
When mom and dad were driving, forgetting to pay bills, and calling me over-and-over to ask the same questions like “what day is it?”, I thought pointing these things out as a failing would help them finally sell their town home and move into the retirement community full time. Oddly enough, they recognized that their spouse was doing poorly, but never recognize a weakness in their own abilities.
What my behavior did was to create distrust with my parents. Generally, my mom would become argumentative, and my dad would shut down.
I realized that I had to change because my parents were unable to recognize what was happening and therefore unwilling to make any changes to their lives.
What I didn’t know then, and still would not have accepted, was that I would have to wait for something to happen to force a change. When dad broke his hip, required surgery, spent several days in the hospital, and weeks in rehab, I was able to learn a lot more about how much help my mom really needed on a day-to-day basis. It also gave me time to collect more information on their finances and their medical history so in the future I could be a better advocate.
I started from the place I knew and within that familiar dialogue I had with my parents as their adult child. However, with their dementia, logic was not logical to them, they were recreating their memory because they didn’t remember. My habit of debating matters, especially when it came to the little things, only made the road more difficult for all of us. Experienced.