Two things that should be a part of every caregiver bootcamp:
- An introduction to the medical reality that our loved ones may not be able to recognize that they are having cognitive issues. It’s called Anosognosia and if someone in your life has had a stroke, or been diagnosed with dementia it is something you should understand. The individual is not purposefully dismissing you as I thought of my mother. I assumed she knew something was wrong but decided to ignore it and dismiss my concerns. However, the reality is that most likely she really had no idea that she was failing cognitively. One report cited that a “categorical diagnosis of anosognosia was made in 42% of patients with mild AD” (Alzheimer’s Dementia). Another report cited that over 80% of those diagnosed with varied dementia had anosognosia.
- There are times when honesty is painful for everyone when a loved one has dementia. When my mom wondered when Dad was coming home from the hospital, I initially walked her through his death and how we were all surrounding him. I still puddle at the memory of these conversations and it’s been more than five years since I had them with Mom. She relived the pain as did I. Why didn’t I just say that he would be home in a few days? I had a fixed belief that honesty was the best policy … but there were many times when it didn’t serve my Mom.
I wish I had learned and understood this much earlier in my journey as a family caregiver. It will take some time to understand and adapt. However, being armed with this information can help you be a better care partner.
When I finally learned this information and how to apply it, I promised myself that I would tell the truth once and after the initial conversation would find a kinder way to respond to Mom’s questions or demands.
Once I learned how to change, life for both of us got better. Shared.