Few things are more difficult to watch than a loved one suffer from memory impairment and watch them slowly drift away. During this time emotions are raw, and it is imperative we show compassion to those that are dealing with memory impairment.
Things You Should Not Do:
Don’t try to do this on your own!
Don’t think you are alone in this!
Don’t try to reason with them!
Don’t argue or be confrontational!
Don’t remind them that they forgot something!
Don’t take things personally!
Things You Should Do:
Give short and simple explanations. For example, “It is time to go so put your shoes on.”
Allow them extra time to process the information.
Repeat instructions the same way. For example, repeat “It is time to go so put your shoes on.”
Don’t use words like “but” or other words that can cause confrontation.
Be patient! They are not lazy or dumb, but they need more time and help.
Be flexible! They can be overwhelmed and often it is best to go with the flow.
Focus on their emotions and not their words. This helps them feel understood and avoids confrontation.
Agree with them or offer a distraction. They may have a reason valid or not. For example, if you have a commitment and are short on time instead of confronting, accept blame or offer distraction.
Forgive them no matter what. They forget or are confused and living in constant fear.
Accept the blame even if it is not true. They may make things up or may not understand so it is best to reassure them.
Some Good Examples:
They say they do not need to go to the doctor’s appointment, and they are fine…
Don’t argue or tell them they forget.
Do accept blame by saying, “Sorry I didn’t tell you, but it is a check-up.”
Do distract them like I understand this is not fun but once we are done, we can get some Starbucks (or whatever else may help motivate them).
They make an untrue statement like “I don’t ever see my grandkids anymore.”
Don’t mention they are wrong, “You just saw them two weeks ago.”
Do offer help, “I know you miss them. Maybe we can call them today to talk with them and set up a time to see them soon.”
Please do not try to do this alone and know that we are here for you and there are excellent resources out there. Be patient and kind at all times and do not be afraid to leave the room if you are afraid you will not handle the situation well. Ethical dilemmas may come up like them mentioning a dead family member being alive and it is ok to not remind them the person passed away as it will cause more emotional damage to them. Losing a loved one once is tough enough and it can be difficult for them to go through those emotions again.
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