Nurse Jan Dougherty shares why family members and caregivers should not fight with an Alzheimer's patient.
Well, you know one of the most challenging things to watch someone change in front of us is that they begin to forget and the stories change, and we want them so desperately to be right and so, at first it starts with us trying to remind them, which often aggravates the person because it’s a dignity thing.
Sometimes they don’t even have insight that something is taking place with them and sometimes they do know that now we are reminding them, so it’s like rubbing salt in the wound.
Sometimes they lose their sense of timing and often times that goes early so what that means is, they forget that they asked a question and yet this is important to them, so they might ask over and over again “And when are the kids coming again?” or “When is my doctor’s appointment?” And often caregiver’s fatigue, I mean it’s hard to answer the same question over and over again.
And so often times, by the time they have asked it the fifth time, the caregiver will get upset and say, “Well I have already told you that.” Well, part is reminding the caregiver, “You know, when they didn’t have this disease, this is something they would have done.” So first of all, to remind themselves that they have a defect in their brain that’s not allowing them to remember that they asked a question.
And then it’s more importantly, “What is it that’s bothering them that would often have them asked this question repeatedly?” So they want to keep this doctor’s appointment. They want to be the best for their children.
So often times just asking, “Honey, you’ve asked that now several times and it makes me wonder that you’re worried, you know, what is it you’re concerned about?” Sometimes gets really at the root of the issue and by doing that and taking care of the agenda, the question really that the person wants to ask and they don’t know how, the caregiver can answer and now we have just dispelled that situation.
So it’s just going to be better for everybody to know that this person is doing the best they can and for you to take a deep breath and sometimes just say, “You know, you probably forgot, but we’re going to be going in ten minutes,” whatever that is, just straight into the point.
About Nurse Dougherty, R.N., M.S.:
Registered Nurse Jan Dougherty is the director of family and community services at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and has a master’s degree in gerontological nursing.
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