Dementia care partnering involves ample give-and-take, and even more important, a lot of letting go.
The more the care partner who does not have dementia can free themselves of unproductive thoughts, feelings and behaviours the easier it is on everybody. We must be sensitive to the fact that the capacity of a person with dementia to use logic, reason, and common sense may decline as the disease progresses. That doesn’t mean their humanity diminishes or that they become any less a person. It simply means their abilities differ from ours. It’s up to us to adjust our behaviour to fit theirs to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to enhance communication, connection and well-being.
I belong to about a dozen great Facebook dementia caregiver support groups. Cheryl Morris Siciliano, one of the members of “Memory people” posted a list of the things she had let go of in the process of caring for her parent who has Alzheimer’s disease. Her “no longers” generated hundreds of comments from people who agreed with the importance of letting go of stuff that isn’t useful.
Here’s Siciliano’s list:
- I no longer have to be right about anything
- I no longer insist on matching clothes
- I no longer try to explain everything
- I no longer cry in front of Mom
- I no longer correct her
- I no longer apologize for her actions
- I no longer mention outings or parties more than a day in advance
- I no longer think I am the only one in this battle
- I no longer get mad or frustrated
- I no longer try to control her spending
- I no longer question
- I no longer feel guilty
- I no longer feel bad about the past
- I no longer fear her
- I am no longer uptight
- I no longer feel the need to be truthful about the loved ones who have passed on
- I no longer care about what others think or say
I would tack these on:
- I no longer feel bad if s/he says hurtful things to me
- I no longer care if s/he recognizes me
- I no longer worry about tomorrow
- I no longer wish s/he were someone other than who s/he is
Do you care for someone with dementia? Or have you in the past? What do/did you no longer do to make your life and the life of your care partner more joyful and less stressful?
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