In terms of their physical and medical, it does matter what is the cause of their dementia.
In terms of their social and emotional care, it does not and we must remember a number of things.
Firstly, you simply cannot understand the world in which they live. You must listen to them. For this reason, the newest notions from professionals tell us that we must buy in to their world and their stories. It really hit home for me when listening to This American Life's segment entitled Magic Words. If you haven't listened to a podcast, you really should!
It is up to the caregiver to adapt and change to the needs of the care recipient. This will save you grief. For just as a new parent must adapt to a diagnosis of a disability in a child, caregivers must adapt to the diagnosis in a loved one since they are unable to control their biopsychosocial symptoms. This is crucial. Your hopes and dreams must change, as well. We must change the way we frame our lives, Framing Our Happiness and Our Attitudes.
What is ironic for me is that my son, the actor, told me about this show, which led me to this idea. I'd Yes, and' makes to a conversation with an adult child and granddaughter, towards a family member with dementia symptoms.
suggest listening to the show, as they have audiotape of the mother and you can listen to the difference a simple, '
THE SIX WEEK PROGRAMHere is the program taught at the four pilot facilities.
WORKSHOP 1 - Understanding the World of Alzheimer's
WORKSHOP 2 - Non Verbal Communication
WORKSHOP 3 - Verbal Communication
WORKSHOP 4 - Listening Skills
WORKSHOP 5 - Tools for Behaviors
WORKSHOP 6 - Tools for Caregiving
Essentially, good carers must be open-ended with them, and do as they do in Improv: do not shut down the scene. "You're wrong." or "It didn't happen that way."
In good Improv you acknowledge the statement and say, "Yes And ..." There is much to support this in the acting world, Yes And is a tool that keeps the drama unfolding, rather than ending the scene.
This is how we can interact with someone who is not living in the here and now, but in their own world. We do it with toddlers. We can do it with people with whom we have a history as long as we leave our own egos aside. It is fruitless to argue when faced with these dementia symptoms, as much as we want everything to be 'normal', it is not.
Dr. Phil talk about the Right Fight, in which couple seek to convince the other that they are right and you are wrong. The argument continues for hours, weeks, years. This is what happens with many caregivers. It leads to frustration, anger and a sense of failure. When working with young children, I learned to prune information and ideas from them, using questions, and it makes for a satisfying conversation.
I instinctively used this skill when my late father used to sit in his wheelchair, bang on the table in It's all gone to hell!" This from a man who never swore or got angry with me. I acknowledged that he was right. Rather than shaming him for his language, I used to simply agree with him. "Yes, Dad. It's all gone to hell. Now, do you want some veggies or meat right now?" I spent many an hour feeding him after he lost the ability to use a knife and fork. We spent a lot of time in this reversed relationship.
Also..."Tell me more about that time in your life."
"What was that like for you?"
"Why do you think it is like that?"
"What will we do about this?"