Everyone can see I've been crying.

4

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“I don’t want to sit in there. She’s turned on me, and everyone can see I’ve been crying.”

She was sure that her daughter wasn’t coming to visit, and that her daughter hated her for an unknown reason. She was also sure that not eating dinner was a good way to take revenge. All of the convincing in the world couldn’t coax her to the dining room. “No, they can see that I’ve been crying,” she said.

I could have told her that this was a terrible revenge plot; that not eating wasn’t the best way to get her daughter to come visit. That her daughter would probably be in tomorrow. Instead, I decided on a new route. This resident hails from England, a place where I spent a semester during college. While there, I learned that everyone drinks tea. A lot of tea. And they drink it with milk. I walked her back to her room, and then went to the dining area. A Resident Assistant and I prepped her tea and milk, and I brought this to her in her room. She was suddenly smiling again. “The English take their tea with milk, don’t they?” I asked. After she finished her tea, I brought her a plate from the dining room. We sat together on her bed while she told me about England, her daughter, and her life after marrying an American soldier. She ate everything on her plate without any coaxing. I even brought her dessert to her room. It didn’t take any arguing, tricks, or coaxing—just a little adjustment and patience—and we had a lovely, quiet dinner.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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