1. Don’t tell someone diagnosed with dementia they are wrong.

doingitwrongNo one likes to be wrong. Before my mom was diagnosed with dementia, but after she had a small stroke that she never remembered, we began to get into arguments. My parents and I had a close relationship and saw each other 2 – 3 times a week. My mom and I didn’t normally get into disagreements once I moved out from under their roof.

Even before mom’s stroke that left no physical reminders and that the neurologist judged to be quite minor, we noticed some changes in her behavior and recall. It turns out that mom had an earlier stroke that apparently went un-diagnosed as much as 2 decades prior to the stroke we knew about. It’s not like didn’t see a doctor– every year she and my dad both had  comprehensive physicals. .

Dinner dates were getting missed, family history was changing, and initially I would challenge mom as I had in the past. I showed up for dinner on Tuesday, she said we were supposed to meet Thursday … our relationship degraded and I felt like I was 16 and re-enacting my teen-age years (yeah, I was right then too : >.) Some of our disagreements ended with her threatening to “pop me in the mouth.” My brother shared his experience with the same behaviors in a blog post from April 2012.

What we didn’t know then was that getting into these arguments usually made mom more combative. Who likes to be told they are wrong?  This was BEFORE our parents would consider changing their lifestyle. We were afraid for their safety and well-being. However, starting these fights only made my parents fight harder to keep their independence.

You won’t win the argument, so why fuel it? Reflected.

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