New reader here, finding your blog insightful. My mother is in between stage 5 and 6, and we are now starting in-home care for help with bathing and dressing (she stopped bathing quite some time ago, but I have finally convinced my Dad she needs to be guided through it from start to finish.) My question is: what are the words I should use when she says "I don't need anyone to come in and help me, I take showers all the time!", or "what! Are you going to put me in a home now?" Many thanks, Joy


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Welcome and thank you for reading along! This is pretty normal, because you can imagine how annoying it would be to have someone new coming to your house and “helping” you. First, I would take the blame off of YOU and put it on a doctor. “Oh, your doctor wanted to make sure you could get some extra assistance.” That way, she’s not angry with you. Secondly, how much care does she actually need? Some of my residents just need to be “cued” to start or continue bathing. Others need full assistance. I would encourage the caregivers to allow your mom to do as much work as possible (letting her wash her hair or even just letting her choose her clothes and shampoo before the bath.) The key here is to make her feel as independent as possible so she’ll accept help. Make it seem as though the caregivers are just there to be helpful. Also, the better the relationship between a caregiver and a person needing care, the better. (Can caregivers take time to connect with your mom?)

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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 two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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