It’s official!

My blog is now officially on my RachaelWonderlin.com site, but no fear: you can still use DementiaByDay.com or Dementia-By-Day.com to reach it!

I was previously writing my posts on Tumblr, but wanted to switch everything to one location and use WordPress. This sentence may mean absolutely nothing to you, and that’s okay: just know that I wanted to put everything in one spot!

I also have a couple announcements coming out, the first one being that I hired a Media Manager! You can reach Amanda directly at events@dementiabyday.com

We’ll be rolling out some cool stuff in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading along, as always.

– Rachael

Is that “behavior” worth worrying about?

I often meet people who tell me about their loved one’s “behaviors” and ask how to “fix them.” My first question is this: Is that behavior worth worrying about?

Let’s take a few examples and decide which ones we should be worried about finding solutions for.

  1. They’ve begun to urinate in the house plants, thinking that they are outside
  2. They yell at the mailman, concerned that he is “keeping” some of their mail
  3. They think their spouse is still alive
  4. They accuse a relative of stealing money from them
  5. They have trouble taking a shower because they don’t like the water hitting them

Which of these five are most concerning to you?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. For example, maybe in your house, keeping your loved one living with dementia away from the mailman isn’t a big deal. Or, maybe it is a big deal: you’ve had a great relationship with your mail carrier for years, and this constant bickering is quickly causing rifts in that friendship.

Normally, I’d say that #3 is NOT a big deal: please, please, please Embrace Their Reality. Don’t argue and tell them their spouse is dead, or try to convince them otherwise. However, if your loved one living with dementia is constantly trying to take the car to go visit their spouse at work, you may have a problem. In this case, we need to ensure that the car is not available. We also need to keep them feeling safe and reassured that their spouse will be home soon.

Most of these have pretty easy solutions:

  1. Remove the house plants
  2. Time it so they are occupied when the mailman comes, or explain to the mailman the situation so he isn’t upset
  3. Embrace Their Reality(!)
  4. Let them know that, while you don’t believe it’s true, you will “look into it for them”
  5. Wrap a towel around their shoulders so the water his the towel first, or switch to a bath

Thank you so much for your very timely post on not telling Mom we sold her house. I recently sold my Mother’s house after she has been in an A/L facility for almost two years. It took me that long to get past the feelings of guilt and betrayal. But now…what DO I tell her when (in a coherent moment) she asks about her house? And what do I say if an uncooperative family member or unknowing friend or ex-neighbor mentions it to her?

I would say, “The house is fine,” because that’s true: it IS fine. I would talk to uncooperative people and explain that her reality is her reality. If this means that you need to reassure her that you still own the house, you can also do that!

On today’s episode we’ll be talking about the TWO THINGS that you’ve been overlooking when trying to solve behavioral challenges for people living with dementia. This episode is sponsored by New Dawn Dementia Understandings at www.newdawndementia.com – To register for a seminar with Donna and her company, or to schedule a class at your community, please visit www.NewDawnDementia.com or call 347-927-6712

Should we tell her we sold her house?

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Put simply: definitely not.

In order to combat ANY sort of loss, we need a couple things in our mental toolkits, right? We need the ability to process, store and recall information, and we also need the ability to understand the passage of time.

A loss could be something like losing a beloved relative or friend, moving from a home you’ve lived in for years, the sale of that place, the loss of a pet, or anything else that would cause pain.

People living with dementia do not have the ability to process, store and recall information that they heard. This is why it’s futile to tell them about a loss, even if that loss is serious. Telling a person with dementia that their loved one has died or their beloved house was sold is only going to result in pain. And then, twenty minutes later, they’re asking about the house again.

I recently had a caregiver ask me about this. She said, “My mom always talks about the apartment she used to live in. We still have it rented, but she isn’t ever going back there…what do I do when she talks about it?”

I advised the caregiver that avoid telling her mom she isn’t going back to the apartment, and even suggested that they stop renting it. “I know it feels like a betrayal,” I said, “but if she’s never going back there, continuing to rent it out of guilt is just a huge waste of money!”

People living with dementia also have trouble processing TIME. When we’re dealing with grief, we need to be able to understand the passage of time. We need to be able to think back to the past and then to remember where we are currently.

Telling a person with dementia about a loss is unfair when they can’t grieve it properly.

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