Dementia is a disease that is growing at alarming rates. It is a cruel disease that doesn’t just impact the one diagnosed—it impacts the whole family. It can at times be very frustrating to be a caregiver because out of love you want to take care of your loved one, but they are no longer the same person that you have loved and cherished all these preceding years. In today’s post, we are continuing an interview with a caregiver whose wife was diagnosed with dementia. Today we’re discussing ways of decreasing a caregiver’s frustration.
In part 1 of this 5 part series, we discussed the signs and symptoms that led up to a medical diagnosis for dementia: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 1
In part 2, we discussed the most difficult aspect of the caregiver’s experience dealing with his wife’s dementia and his advice for others in the early stages: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 2
In part 3, we discussed the importance of the caregiver joining support groups: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 3
In part 4, we discussed the importance of the dementia patient receiving respite care as well as the caregiver and a caregiver support group to prevent burnout: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 4
DrB: “I’m wondering if you would be willing to share with us what you have found helpful for decreasing your frustration. We know it can be so frustrating to deal with the impact of a loved one’s memory loss. What have you found helpful for managing the frustration that comes from that?”
Caregiver: “Well, frequently when I ask her questions, she will say ‘No’ when she really means ‘Yes.’ For example, before we go out shopping for a period of time or out for dinner, I’ll have to ask her if she needs to use the restroom. Inevitably she says, ‘No.’ So rather than repeating the same question over and over and getting the same answer, instead of asking her, I’ll ask it a different way like, ‘Do you want to go to the restroom before or after me?’ or ‘Do you want to go in the guest bathroom or in the master bathroom?’ In this way, the decision of whether to go or not has been assumed. It’s just a matter of where and when.”
DrB: “So it’s not a ‘Yes or No’ question anymore, but a ‘This or That’ choice.”
Caregiver: “Exactly. Redirecting their attention sometimes when they are focused on one thing. Sometimes it’s redirecting their attention to another activity, object, or room.”
“For example, one of the things is that she still loves to play the piano and can play many of the pieces from memory very well. So for me, a very common redirection is asking her to go play the piano for me, which she enjoys doing, so she’s always willing to do that.”
DrB: “So taking her attention off something that would otherwise be a frustrating situation for you and putting it on to something that is a positive experience for her is helpful.”
Let me encourage you today that if you the caregiver for a loved one has dementia, do what you can to educate yourself and get more information, and try to be understanding. There are some situations that will frequently invoke some frustration, but if you can focus your loved one’s attention on something that is a positive experience for them, it can both decreased the frustration of the caregiver and the loved one with dementia.
For more information on how to help your loved one with dementia and to get additional tips, go to my website, http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
Because of Him,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
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Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
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