"The dog has to pee."

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Meredith sat, holding her little stuffed dog, watching TV. 

She stroked his fur and kissed his nose.
“His nose is cold,” she grinned. Meredith believed that the dog was real, and her relationship with him was adorable. 

“Hey, Meredith, let’s go stop by the bathroom before lunch,” I smiled.  

“Nah,” she said, holding the dog tighter and nodding to the TV. “I feel lazy." 

"Okay, let’s wait a little while,” I recovered. 

Darn, I thought. I need to get this woman to the bathroom. I paused and thought for a minute. 

I waited about 5 minutes and tried a new approach. 

“Meredith, the dog has to pee. Will you help me take him?” I asked. 

“Oh, he does? Yes, I guess so,” she sighed, leaning forward in an effort to stand up.
I took the dog from her lap, still wrapped in his blanket. 

“I’ll let you walk, and I’ll carry the dog,” I suggested.
To the bathroom we went.

I didn’t argue with her, and I didn’t make up a bunch of reasons why she should go to the bathroom instead of watch TV. Instead, I embraced her reality and worked within those parameters.

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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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