Anticipatory grief. I first learned the term when I was in graduate school. I threw it around a lot when I was volunteering for hospice. Now that I work with families impacted with dementia I apply the term frequently. It could be described as the emotional response to the pending death of a loved one–but […]
A guy once told me he never knew how much his wife accomplished in a day until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was unable to do what she had done for the previous thirty years. He told me that picking up the slack was a big challenge for him.
“Dementia doubled my chores,” one woman told me.
Stop. Take a second right now. Pat yourself on the back for the added responsibilities that you’ve mastered.
I get a lot of gifts from people with dementia. And I’m not talking about abstract and intangible gifts. I’m talking about actual stuff.
Sometimes they are gifts “stolen” from another resident at a memory care community. Sometimes they are pulled directly from a dirty clothes hamper. Sometimes they are things that aren’t really useful to me–like a used lipstick.
I have been given family heirlooms only to return them to family members at a later date. People have insisted I accept horse figurines, gently used toothbrushes, expensive and inexpensive jewelry, cat beds, and rocks. People color me pictures. Once someone gave me a photo of their grandbaby so I “wouldn’t forget what babies look like since no one has them nowadays.”
If you’re a caregiver, I hope that your mistakes are small and fixable (and maybe that your loved one with dementia forgets about them). And I hope that you move on quickly because guilt and self-blame are a waste of time.
When I do presentations and explain how dementia can impact impulse control, I ask groups, “How many of you have ever felt like hitting someone, kicking someone, or verbally berating someone…but didn’t?” It’s funny. I’ve asked this question to quite a few groups: nursing home administrators, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, family caregivers, nuns, cops, […]