"I told you seven times already."

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“Your room is right there! I told you seven times already!”

I was walking up the hallway when I witnessed this exchange. One of my residents, Jen, sat on the couch near her room. She often got anxious, forgot why she was there, and couldn’t figure out where her room was.

Her sitter (a caregiver that was extra help, and paid by the family) was not trying to be mean, but it certainly didn’t sound good. And, frankly, it pissed me off.

My walk turned to a jog up the hallway to greet this exchange head-on. I really hate correcting people, but things like this–I just can’t let them go.

I walked up to the caregiver. “It doesn’t matter how many times you tell her,” I said. “The point is, she can’t remember the information.”

“Yeah, I know, I know,” she replied, annoyed at my correction.

“Well, then you know that there’s no reason to ever say that to a resident,” I replied, frustrated. “I don’t want to hear that again.”

Everyone gets tired when taking care of people with dementia. I myself will sometimes take a few minutes and sit in my office or in a quieter room, just to gather my patience. It’s okay to lose your patience–because it will happen–but never in front of a person with dementia.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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