Dear Annie 8/23
Mon., Aug. 23, 2021
Dear Annie: I read with interest and sadness the letter from “Forgotten Daughter” who believes her mom is developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease like their grandfather had. I know this process firsthand. My maternal grandmother had this dreaded disease, and now my mom has it.
Like the writer’s mom, my mom showed signs earlier than her parents did. I agree with your advice that it is important to get the person to see their doctor. However, they should know that it is often difficult to get the loved one to agree because they believe (or want to believe) there is nothing wrong with them.
It is also important to see a doctor who is knowledgeable about dementia, or you can end up worse off than you started. Finally, as to the loved one telling the same stories over and over, and the defensiveness – these are parts of the disease that all caregivers and family have to learn to cope with.
The one piece of advice that has been the most fruitful for our family and caregivers is not to argue. If she wants to say the same thing more than once, I have to practice the skill of patience, which is not my favorite – nor most people’s – but it comes in handy.
Likewise, trying to be understanding when they get frustrated and working on not taking it personally. Watching someone you love fall victim to dementia is a challenging and sometimes brutal journey.
But there are good moments, too; good and tender moments of connection. These are what keep us (relatively) sane, and I wish many such moments to the letter writer and their mom. Thank you for being an advocate for good attention to dementia patients and their families. – See It Firsthand
Dear Firsthand: Thank you for your wonderful advice. You clearly have experience with the disease and are handling it with grace. Best of luck to you and your family.
Dear Annie: As a caregiver and a daughter-in-law, I would just like to say your advice for “Forgotten Daughter” is spot on. This daughter is in a very hard position, but she should try to remember that our reality can’t be forced onto her mom. Sometimes, you have to live in her reality and pretend you have never heard that story or just go along with what she says. Enjoy every moment and story that you can, because when they are gone, you will wish you could hear them one more time. I have to remind my husband of this all the time. Don’t regret not taking the time you have to build good memories now. – Understanding Caregiver
Dear Understanding Caregiver: I love the idea of enjoying every moment, memory and story with those we love. Cherishing those we love each day is the biggest gift we can give to them and to ourselves.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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