A Better Approach to “Logic” & Dementia

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One thing I encounter often is when caregivers try their hardest to “convince” people with dementia of facts that they no longer understand. 

People will say things to me like,

“I keep trying to tell my mom that dad is dead, but she doesn’t believe me. How do I convince her?”

Here’s my answer: stop trying to “convince” her. You’re starting an uphill battle, and there will never be a clear winner.

If your loved one with dementia believes that her husband is still alive, that’s a GOOD thing. Let her believe that. Why try to convince her otherwise, especially when she’s going to forget what you told her?

Try this instead: Ask her, “Where do you think he is?”

Whatever she says, that is the right answer. So, if she says, “He’s at work,” you can say, “Yes, he’s at work.” If she says, “I think he died,” you can say, “Yes, I think he died.” What you’re doing is you are finding out what her reality is, and then agreeing with that reality.

Logic and dementia don’t mix. Using facts or figures with people who have dementia isn’t going to help them to understand where you’re coming from. For example, taking your mother to the cemetery to show her your father’s gravestone isn’t a good idea. She’s either: not going to believe you, she’s going to get upset, or she’s going to “remember” briefly and then quickly forget, starting the process over again. 

Stop using logic in dementia care, and, instead, Embrace Their Reality(TM)!

When you Embrace Their Reality(TM), you recognize that you CAN go ALL the way to their world WITHOUT feeling like you’re lying! You’re not lying, you’re not “therapeutic fibbing,” you’re actually doing what’s true for that person.

Check out one of my videos from YouTube about a similar topic…how do you “convince” someone with memory loss to see a doctor?

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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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