Why’s Dad acting like this?

I’ve spoken to quite a few caregivers of loved ones suffering from dementia and there’s one common complaint for many of them.  Anger.  Not that the caregiver is angry, per se, but their loved one has sudden and uncontrollable episodes of anger.  These are often out of character for the loved one, or more extreme than normal.

It is painful to be on the receiving end of these outburst, to have cruel words hurled at your head by someone you love.  You, as the caregiver, may feel like they don’t appreciate what you do for them.  You may wonder if it is worthwhile to continue, that maybe your love and care isn’t enough.

Believe me in this, your love and care IS enough.  You are their rock!  You help them navigate a world that has become foreign and terrifying.

Think back to the last time you felt out of control.  That time where you felt like you couldn’t get a handle on anything and everyone was pulling the rug out from underneath your feet.  When you felt you had absolutely no control over the direction your life was headed at that moment.

How did you react to that scary, roiling mass of nerves in your stomach moment?  For many of us our first reaction would to be lash out with anger.  No one likes to feel out of control.  No one likes to feel that knot in your throat from flailing helplessly in the darkness.

This is part of what a dementia patient feels 24/7/365.

They don’t always understand what’s going around them, but often a part of their mind says they should understand.  They’re confused, frustrated.

At the same time, these diseases that cause dementia erode away the “social filter” that we’re taught as children.  So they lash out.  Unfortunately, you happen to wind up in the line of fire.

It’s hard, but the best thing to do is to remind yourself that your loved one doesn’t really mean all the awful things they’re saying.  They’re scared and they may not know how to communicate it.

My mantra is always: “IT’S THE DISEASE TALKING”.

The best thing you can do for your loved one when these outbursts happen is to do one, some or all of the following:

  • Eliminate external stimuli
  • turn off or down TV or radio,
  • if in a room with many people – take them to another room or ask the others to step out
  • as long as they’re not in a position of harming themselves or others, give them some space
  • give them a small snack and some water
  • distract with some pictures or albums from their younger lives
  • play some favorite music at a low volume (just enough to be audible, but not overwhelm)
  • ask them to tell you about a specific happy memory

Remember, in all the chaos, you are their foundation.  You are the one person they can rely upon, even if they can’t remember your name.  You ultimately make them feel safe and secure.  They will trust you to do what’s best.hand to hold

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Who is that old lady in the mirror?

I saw a wonderful series of photos that drive home a real point about how we perceive ourselves and how those we care for perceive themselves.  When I look at myself in the mirror some days I wonder how it is that I’ve grown older – sometimes I still think I’m 20 years old (until I try to do something and my body reminds me I have a few more miles on the odometer … ).

With dementia patients they may look at their reflections in the mirror and will honestly not recognize themselves.  This may lead to aggression, paranoia or terror.

As I look at these pictures I also think about the stories of their lives.  Their life experiences and the ways they enhanced their families and community.

Take a look and enjoy … Photo credit to Tom Hussey …

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Special Deal!

I published my first book and I want to offer everyone a special deal!

I’m letting you who follow my blog have a free copy!

Until October 9th if you go to Smashwords and enter this code: RM52F (not case-sensitive).  You will receive a free copy of my book Who Are You? (Surviving Dementia from One Caregiver to Another)

Here’s the link to my book on Smashwords:

All I ask in return is that you leave an honest review and if you enjoyed it, let others know!

Managing dementia behaviors

Dementia will cause your loved one to act in strange ways.  There are several specific behaviors that seem to be common regardless of the type of dementia.  Two of them are delusions and wandering.

This is an instructional video from a great company discussing techniques to manage these behaviors while keeping your loved one safe and calm.

I’ve done it! I’m so excited

I’ve been working for what seems like forever on my first book about caregiving and today is the day I’ve published it!

I put this concise work together to provide helpful information for anyone caring for a love one with dementia.  I would recommend it for caregivers, family and friends of caregivers and anyone who suspects a loved one may have dementia.  My key goal was to answer the questions I had when I started my journey as a caregiver.

I’ve published it via Smashwords and it is available for download via all e-reader formats.

Please check out my book and buy a copy.  Tell others about it as well.

Who are you? (Surviving dementia from one caregiver to another)