|Coffee stained section from Mom's journal.|
Where is she? Her ticket say MOI realized that I've underestimated the degree to which Mom's thinking processes have been compromised, and because of this I've been unkind when I have only intended to spur her to do for herself what I thought she was still able to do.
That is where her farm home is. (Mom grew up on a farm in Missouri)
Because my mother has a pre-Alzeheimer's established habit of recording her thoughts in spiral notebooks, her journaling has helped me make a list of reminders for myself that may help other caregivers as well:
1) Don't assume that our patients understand more than they do. Pay close attention to their responses, even (especially) those that seem at first to make no sense.
2) Do respond with love and acceptance to irregular behaviors.
3) Don't respond according to the past rules of our relationships with our patients. In the past it might have been appropriate to respond to our loved ones' seemingly unjustified hostility with self defense or logical argument, but now such responses are ineffective and even cruel in light of the patients' compromised ability to think clearly.
4) Be willing to try one strategy after another until we find ways to communicate effectively.
5) Don't assume too much. Arm ourselves with knowledge about the brain damage of dementia and how it impacts behavior.
6) Remember that although the mind is damaged, the heart remains intact. Our loved ones still need kindness, expressions of love, hugs, and approval. Our disapproval still has the power to hurt.