I was really frustrated when I knew that my parents were having trouble managing their household but refused to accept any help. They did not recognize they needed help which is very common for people diagnosed with dementia. And I also recognize I probably came in too strong.
As the disease progressed, my parents started asking me to help. I had backed of and started visiting without an agenda. When asked, I would work in tandem with them or would accept the assignment and transition to a new topic depending on how they presented the task. If we started to work on a task and they grew fatigued or anxious, I would usually ask if we could take a break and go get a cup of tea or take a walk. I had to change so I adapted.
You have probably heard the expression “meet them where they are” but while it seems so simple a concept, it’s often hard to adapt a familiar pattern. As I adapted to be a better family care partner, I started to recognize all the things I was losing. That helped me recognize how difficult it was for my mom and dad as they were also loosing to the disease.
As I work with others diagnosed with varied forms of dementia, it’s much easier for me to meet them where they are. I now see how easy it is to work with them to pay a bill, organize tax papers, and even help them plan for an upcoming luncheon they have attended for years.
My hope is that they can enjoy where they are a little longer. Learned.