A reminder to be kindler, gentler, more understanding when dementia is diagnosed

Azheimer's RequestAn old friend from high-school posted this on Facebook.

I prefer to just speak to dementia given Alzheimer’s is just one type under the umbrella of dementia. May this bring you and your loved ones peace and understanding. Enjoyed. 

Dementia Request

Do not ask me to remember, don’t try to make me understand. Let me rest and know you’re with me, kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept, I’m sad and sick and lost. All I know is that I need you, to be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me, do not scold or curse or cry, I can’t help the way I’m acting, I can’t be different through I try.

Just remember that I need you, that the best of me is gone. Please don’t fail to stand beside me, love me ’til my life is gone.

The level of sneakiness to which I sank

coke offerWhile both of my parents have varying stages of dementia, its my mom that is difficult to assist. Some days she has trouble understanding and comes across as illogical and mean. I finally was able to approach her and be the type of caregiver I needed to be by telling myself she has a head injury that has changed her personality.

When she does not like what you tell her or how you say it, she get’s mean. She squints her eyes, her lips curl into a cruel smile and she will tell you what a horrible child you are, how disrespectful you have become, or challenge you to “prove it.” The only way for me to keep the conversation from escalating is to play smiling possum. I will muster a smile and just do not respond. I can usually find a way to excuse myself, knowing that when I return the conversation will repeat. If I’m challenged to respond, I will often smile, shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know.”

I learned the “I don’t know” trick from my dad. As the one who has been living with my mom, he found this worked to end a conversation. At times I thought his memory was really bad (he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s), but when I would talk to my dad later about the topic, he would know the answer. In many situations, answering my mom’s question would only escalate her anxiety. Instinctively, he adapted.

My mom’s doctor prescribed medication (Ativan) to relieve her anxiety, and she won’t take it. I’ve tried a variety of methods with no success.

Knowing how difficult the coming day will be when we start the physical move of my parents from their independent living apartment to assisted living, I manage to remove all the Coke from my parents home. I decided I would bring her a Coke that includes one dose of Ativan as the doctor prescribed (I offered her a 1/4 of the can mixed with the pill I ground to a powder). Coke is one of the three things my mom will drink.

During this stage of my mom’s dementia, the Ativan seems to help minimize her anxiety and improve her daily interactions with everyone.

The first thing I did when I arrived was to ask “Mom, would you like some Coke this morning?” Outed.