So What?

In caregiving on September 11, 2011 at 1:36 am

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia…but to those of us dealing with a loved one who is, for lack of a better term trapped in their own world, dealing with any type of memory loss can be extremely stressful to say the least. We have a client who every time she comes out of the bathroom she asks “did they call my numbers yet?” She constantly thinks she is at Bingo, something she always loved to play. Her daughter and I had a conversation about this. The daughter has consistently tried to explain to her mother that she was not at Bingo, that she was at home, etc. She told me it was so stressful and heartbreaking to go through this same conversation several times a day and she never got through to her. During this conversation with the daughter I told her that whenever her mother said this during our care visits I would sometimes tell her “Yes” and give her a small prize, other times I would tell her “I am sorry but they have not called your numbers yet”. I saw no point in trying to explain to her that she was not at Bingo.

We developed a routine during lunch where we started to play Bingo together and she loved it. I explained to the daughter that as long as the situation was not harmful (touching a hot stove, wandering out into the street, etc.) it did not matter if she tried to correct her mother or set her straight. So what? What does it matter? The daughter now goes along with her mother whenever she asks if they called her numbers yet and everyone is happier and there is less stress.

There is benefit to keeping loved ones in touch with reality but when this is no longer realistic, sometimes it is less stressful for everyone to just go with the flow.

I realized this a few years ago when I accompanied a 92 yr. old client to a family wedding. At the beginning of the ceremony she kept telling me “it’s so nice that Samuel is finally getting married”, when we were at her great-nephew Michael’s wedding. (I do not know who Samuel was?) At first I kept trying to correct her and explaining who’s wedding we were at but after the third time in 15 minutes, I just went along with her. We both enjoyed the wedding very much and she was not upset or stressed that I was correcting her. I was not stressed because I could not get through to her.

So what if someone doesn’t know whose house they are at. So what if someone doesn’t recognize a loved one anymore. The fact that you can still love them and enjoy them is huge and to do so with less stress is the icing on the cake. Please realize I do not diminish the fact that it hurts to know that a loved one may not know who you are at times but relish in the fact that you can still love them, touch them, be with them and have so much fun with them. That should count for something!

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