This is part of an ongoing series of guest blogs written by Jo Huey, the Alzheimer’s Advocate®, founder of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute.
In our last post, we talked about the Third Absolute of communicating with someone who has Alzheimer’s: Never shame, instead distract.
Today, we’ll explore the Fourth Absolute:
#4: Never lecture, instead reassure.
We’ve all had days when it seems the world is working against us. First, you oversleep. Then, you spill coffee on yourself. By this point, you’re so flustered that you can’t remember where you put your keys.
The last thing you want is for someone to lecture you on how you should’ve gotten to bed earlier and should always put your keys in the same place.
Imagine how much better if would feel if someone just smiled and reassured you, “I did the same thing just yesterday! I’m so glad we’re able to laugh at ourselves! This will be our little secret.”
When someone has Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult for them to remember what to do in certain situations, even if you provide simple instructions.
Let’s say you drive them to the doctor’s office and drop them off at the front door while you find a parking spot. Even if you tell them to, “Stay right here,” they may wander off in the few minutes it takes you to park the car – not because they’re purposing disobeying you, but because they simply can’t recall the instructions you just gave them.
Not only is it frustrating and scary for you, but it’s also frustrating and scary for them. Imagine how confused they must feel not knowing why they’re standing outside of an unfamiliar building.
As a caregiver, your first instinct is probably to lecture them about how worried you were, but keep in mind, this will only aggravate the situation. Due to the disease destroying the part of the brain that houses short-term memory and logical thought, they really don’t remember what you told them or why they’re there.
Instead, offer reassurance. Next time, plan better so you don’t have to leave them alone, even for a few minutes.
In our next post, we’ll explore the Fifth Absolute: Never say “remember,” instead reminisce.
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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of H.H. Franchising Systems, Inc.