Q: Hello Miss Regina, I am so tired of my mum packing to go home. She has lived with me for three years and recently she thinks she lives somewhere else. I come home from work and the caregiver says that she has been in her room packing. The caregiver says my mum becomes vexed if she tells her this is her home. Is there anything that can help my mum stop doing this? It is so draining to put everything back 3 or 4 times a week! Your advice is appreciated.
A: Packing to go home has been a common experience many families deal with. According to Ageingcare.com “The need to go home is the need to go back in time to a place where you are loved and safe. This is especially common when the people begin to experience difficulty with consistent recognition of familiar people. (Early levels of dementia)
People with AD have changes in their visual perception that limit their ability to recognize objects and places, making familiar places seem unfamiliar. If the behaviour occurs later in the day it means fatigue is compounding the problem. If her home does not look familiar, it can be frightening.”
From my own experiences I have noted that the person living with dementia (PWD) is in a space of un-comfort at that moment and does want to feel safe. Where do most of you have memories of feeling safe growing up? It is usually at our childhood home or a home that has had an impact on our lives of safe memories.
To help someone in this frame of thinking is to comfort their feelings by validating their emotion. Allowing the person to talk about the home they want to go to by asking them to tell you more about the home, what do they like about it, what do they miss about it. “Can you stay a few more days with me?” Telling her this is her home is one of the worst things to tell her if you have already received a bad reaction. Why keep telling her that? It is not working? The caregiver could use some dementia training to help her learn how to distract without upsetting her. Help your caregiver get more information about dementia care; it will help all of you.
Q: Dear Regina, the lady I care for now is in early stages of dementia. She is 74. She forgets to bathe or she just passes the water but does not use soap. I tell her to use soap and she gets so angry. The whole day she is vexed. We are used to it and we just let her be the rest of the day how she wants it. But her son says we must help her bathe. How can we get her to use soap?
A: Every person is so different. Ask yourself what does she like? Is she a person who likes to dress up and be fancy? Or is she a simple person to whom clothes is not a big deal? Either way you can have the family buy her a new soap and ask her to try it and see if she likes it so you can buy some for yourself or family member, or that it was a gift and make a big deal about how well it smells. Use small talk of compliments towards her. This will work for men too. People like to feel they are appealing to others. If she does not like it, you can say thank you and value her opinion and see if she likes the old one better then ask about the old one the next shower or bathing time. Be a friend to her not a boss. The more you act like a boss to her the more she will resent you. Make your approach as if you were best friends. She has dementia, she doesn’t know her brain is failing her. You are the one with the healthy brain so you make the change. Don’t settle for an “oh well” attitude and let her suffer. “Oh well” is used for picking your battles and is it really an issue now? Is it harming her to not shower today as apposed a whole month not showering? Is showering the only option to get clean? Pick your challenges and be safe.
Brainy Quote~ The privilege of a life time is being who you Are
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text to 486-4509