When an elderly person becomes less capable of caring for themselves – or even functioning as a thoughtful adult – your first reaction as the loving adult child is to take away every choice they have.
Don’t treat Mom as if she was a child. Her behavior can become progressively more childlike, but it is very important to maintain their dignity because that is what dementia attacks.
My Mom is a very dignified person. She’s has earned the right to have that dignity respected and supported.
Especially with dementia, communication can become difficult. It is hard to tell what a parent is absorbing, and what they are not.
I’ve found with Mom that she remembers more clearly when it is important to her.
So, if you talk down to her, she’ll react negatively. That’s true of almost anyone and it’s important to remember that just because some cognitive abilities are diminished, a person keeps their rights to be a person and to be treated that way.
Again, I try to give Mom some household responsibilities that she can handle to help her feel she’s a vital part of the family. That’s not just a trick. What she can do is a real value to the family.
It is very important to me that Mom continues to do what she can for herself for as long as possible. I think it strengthens her independence and preserves her dignity.
But what she can do changes.
She had a caregiver that came into her home two days a week. We increased that to three days a week and finally five days a week.
She didn’t think it was necessary. She would tell me that she ran out of things to talk to the caregiver about, and she had sent her home. My attempts to talk to her about it would turn her angry and defensive.
That situation is better now because she is more aware that she needs help. But the gradual change still means you should do what is absolutely necessary, but don’t remove her dignity.
Any person will cling to dignity and their sense of self worth.
Part 4 next: It’s your Mom. You didn’t expect her to surrender her sovereignty did you?
Who am I, and why would a person listen to me? Both fair questions. I’m Christine Hammerlund and I’ve been a nurse for years. I have delivered babies, saved lives, and cared for hundreds of patients through their medical triumphs and tragedies. Now I run Assured Healthcare at http://www.assuredhealthcare.com. We're a multi-million dollar medical staff provider in Illinois. I live in Antioch, Ill. Got health questions for me, whether large or small? I’ll answer. Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/AssuredHealthcareStaffing and Chrishammerlund@yahoo.com