Q: Good Morning Ms. Posvar. My husband cannot be left on his own anymore. I work during the day and have been trying to find a good caring person to be with him during the day. I don’t want someone who is just going to sit all day with him and do nothing. What kind of things can I tell the helper to do with him?
A: The helper you hire to help him with his day should have skills in communicating with persons living with dementia and a good amount of history about your husband, what his work history is and his likes and dislikes. What did he do before he was not able to do them anymore? What can he still do? Make out a daily schedule for the help to do with him. Some things he can do on his own while others the help can supervise or encourage him to do. Include an exercise routine that is appropriate for him. Get him out of the house for a walk or somewhere he used to visit. Go visit a friend of his and help him get involved with the community. There are things he can still do. We as people need to feel like we are a part of something and that we bring value. People with dementia have the same needs. We have to figure out how to modify some things so all persons can participate. Yes it takes work on our part but if we keep trying it becomes a habit and it will not seem so hard to accommodate persons living with dementia.
More people will develop dementia over the next 10 to 30 years and St Lucia should invest in a dementia plan of care for the country. We now have a Saint Lucia Alzheimer’s Association and I encourage people to be a part of it and help raise awareness and support for those living with dementia and the families that care for them. Alzheimer’s is not going away anytime soon. We have to teach our young people and school aged children about it and help them cope with loved ones living with it. There are many children who are expected to care for granpa or mummy when they arrive home from school. This is a reality that should be addressed sooner than later. I encourage all of us to pay attention to brain health as our future depends on it. To find out more about Saint Lucia Alzheimer’s Association email at email@example.com
Q: Dear Nurse Posvar, my wife tells me I am not her husband every day. I try everything to explain to her that I am, including showing her pictures. Nothing seems to work. She gets quite upset and won’t let me help her. I am 72 and tired. Why does she do this? Will this go away?
A: This behaviour is very common. I will ask you to take notice of the time that your wife does this. When you calculate the time, take note of where you are at if it is the same place or not. Change the pattern and her behaviour will change. For example: if she tells you that you are not her husband between the hours of 1:30 and 2:30 then take her somewhere completely different at about 1:15 to about 2:45. Go somewhere she likes, a coffee shop, tea time, ice-cream, visit a friend or a walk and talk about something that she is familiar with to engage with.
Many times just changing the routine will take away negative behaviours. Changing bad behaviour into a new good behaviour is challenging yet it can be fun if your perspective is through her eyes not yours. Trying to convince her that you are her husband will bring distress to you and your wife. Your wife is not saying these things to hurt you.
She also may be looking for the young man she married many years ago at that moment. If you find yourself with her and she is saying you are not her husband you can say, “yes, you are right, I am not that young man you married. That man is a good man and he really loves you. What do you love about him?” Get her to talk about you when you both were young. Did you do things differently when you were younger? If she continues and insist on seeing him, tell her you will help her find him and take her for a walk or a drive. Many times this will be calming and the activity will have distracted her.
Brainy quote: It’s not how much you do but how much LOVE you put in the doing
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