By Sandye Linnetz
No, that’s not a misprint. I actually meant patience, because patience is probably the number one requirement when loving or living with someone who has even early signs of Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia. It may be an aging parent, a close relative or neighbor. It may be someone who’s related to someone else… Regardless of who it is in relation to you, all the rules of communication and ‘plays well with others’ go right out the window.
So What Do You Say? and What Do You Do? when you want to exercise generous listening and compassionate communication… and the person on the other end isn’t playing with a full deck, forgets A LOT, has difficulty expressing thoughts and seems to hear you but not understand?
Most of the rules we learned about communication don’t work: there is no reasoning, explaining doesn’t work, confronting can be terrifying and arguing is pointless. Although they may sometimes appear to be nutso, they aren’t. They simply have a disease. They are not testing your patience, trying to aggravate you or from another planet, sent here to destroy the nerves of the human race. They are suffering. They cannot remember… and often can’t remember that they can’t remember. Can you ‘of sound mind’ even imagine what that must be like?
So here’s what I learned today (care takers take note, please)… When elderly people ‘lose’ things it may just mean that they put them somewhere ‘safe’ so they wouldn’t get lost. Problem is, they then tend to forget where that safe place was – or that they ‘hid’ them to begin with… I found my mother’s missing hearing aids – in a baggie under a box under some clothes in a drawer. I found my phone charger in a baggie in her purse. Her ‘lost’ phone turned up in her closet in a shoe. Note to self: NEVER look for mom’s missing items where you think they should be – check the most well hidden places, first! Although patience is personal, the patients’ behavior should not be taken personally. Want more blogs on this topic? I’d be happy to share… comment below and let me know!