Q: Dear Ms.Posvar, I am a member of the community and own a canteen. I have recently encountered a person who was confused and disoriented. I do not know if she has Alzheimer’s or not. I just noticed she was very confused and seemed a little scared. No one was with her and she was talking to herself. I approached her to see if I could help. I asked her if I could help and she backed away from me with flying hands so I told her I was so sorry and I didn’t mean to startle her. She calmed down and then I repproached her again by offering her coffee or tea. She was responsive to tea. I asked her name, she was not able to tell me. I then asked her to write her name and she wrote it for me. I was hesitant to call the police as I didn’t want them to send her to the hospital as I knew she was just lost. It would be nice if we had a way to track persons with problems like this. St. Lucia has become very large and we do not always know our neighbours anymore. I did call as the family had reported her missing and came quickly to collect her. They were appreciative that I had kept her safe. My experience with her was good but I was anxious as I didn’t want to frighten her away, and I often had to leave her at the table. The trouble I had was with my co-workers to keep an eye on her when I had to attend to other business. They told me not to concern myself and to let her go. I was upset with the comments and felt bad that they did not understand. My question to you is, do you talk to small groups to help them understand? I feel that the small businesses in our communities need to be educated just the same as health professionals.
A: Thank you for sharing your experience. You are correct that small and larger businesses need to be educated on what dementia is and how to help persons who are confused and disoriented in the public. Email or call for more information as you can register your loved one with Angels of the West Indies to help locate. The Find system is still in develop mode but pre-registration is accepted.
Your response is both caring and admirable. Calling the police is still good as they usually can locate, however they may need training on how to deal with persons who are scared and disoriented. When you have two scared persons and one has a weapon, guess who loses? So it is imperative that our protective agencies know how to communicate with persons who are cognitively impaired. It will save lives.
Q: Dear Ms.Posvar, I am always arguing with my dad who has Alzheimer’s. I do realize that this makes things worse. There is something in me that just can’t help but correct his error. I am drained, I can’t do this anymore. I am tired of trying. Is there something I can do to help me remember to not argue?
A: You are normal and you need a break. I recommend taking some time to pamper yourself and appreciate who you are and the wonderful things you love about your dad. Reflect on the things you argue about. Is it worth it? Get more understanding with what is happening to his brain so you can understand that his point of view is truly his reality and it is truth to him. It is not about right or wrong to him, it is about how his brain is able to process information. You have the healthy brain. He does not have the ability to logically think and pull from memory as you have. His memory is not kept in its proper place so he has to scramble around to find it. The messages to find it are also altered, and if he does find the memory it may have missing pieces and his brain connects what is there at that moment. When we argue we are forcing his brain to try and process what you are saying and it is not there, so feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and uncomforting emotions arise. He is also not able to calm himself down or talk himself down to do what you and I can do which is remove ourselves from the situation and rationally say,” ok let’s agree to disagree”, or “you may be correct”. But you can. It can save you stress by saying something like, “well Dad, black brown? They sometimes look the same maybe you are right” and laugh about it. Maybe BANGS can help.
“B” is for breathe.
“A” is for assess, accept, and agree.
“N” is for never, never argue
“G” is for go with their flow, let go of your ego, get over it, get on with it, get down to it
“S” is for saying you’re sorry
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