How one woman got her husband to agree to attend adult day care

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She knew that she’d have a hard time getting her husband, Ben, into adult day care. Ben loved working, and now that he was retired and had dementia, he still liked to find projects to do. Convincing him that he could benefit from adult day care certainly wasn’t going to work (and doing this with anyone with dementia is not advisable.)

Instead of arguing with him, she spent a couple weeks getting Ben excited about the opportunity. Each morning at breakfast, she’d begin talking about the adult day program, but reframing it. “There’s this new program,” she told him. “They need more people to work there, but it’s really tough to get in.” A couple weeks into repeating this idea, she finally announced to him that she’d gotten good news. “It turns out they have an opening!” she told Ben.

Ben was excited: he’d gotten into this new program. At first, Ben just went a couple days a week. He seemed as though he enjoyed “working” there, but didn’t really want to take on more days.

“Here’s the thing,” she told him. “They love your work and they want you to put in a few more hours…do you think you’re up for the task?” Of course, he was up for the task. Ben was thrilled to be needed like this.

“When will I see my paycheck?” Ben asked his wife. 

“Well, you see, it goes right back into the program, that’s how their non-profit status works,” she explained.

Ben goes to day care every weekday now. Both of them are very happy with how it’s worked out.

By embracing his reality, she was able to make this new arrangement work for both of them.

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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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