The other day I tried to communicate to the casual friend of a client the need for extending grace to my client regarding some of her behavior due to her dementia. This individual shut me down by stating that she knew “all about dementia” because she’d cared for her mother who’d had dementia.
I strive to be wise and pick my battles. I’ve had enough experience around this woman to know that she feels since she has a couple of decades on me, there’s nothing in this world that I may have more knowledge about than she does. So I shut my mouth, biting back the argument that while she’d cared for one dementia patient I’d had the care of two family members, dozens of clients, interactions with dozens more in memory care facilities, took classes on the subject regularly to get and keep my credentials AND that I scour medical journals online to learn more in my free time.
Any thinking medical professional will admit that EVERY disease presents slightly different in each individual. This includes dementia. Everyone’s body chemistry is slightly different causing sometimes even minute differences.
When you have a disease that affects the brain, then you have to take personality and behavioral changes into account. Once again, due to each person’s individual body chemistry into account (as well as other health issues) this will mean that, while some behaviors may be ‘typical’ for the disease, each person affected will have different variations of behaviors.
So, to the caregivers out there: you know your loved one and how the disease has changed their behaviors and personality. Don’t let anyone tell you that because they’ve had experience with one person that they KNOW your loved one’s behavior isn’t related to the disease and they’re just trying to be a jerk.