Q: Dear Miss Regina, My father has dementia and we had a late night experience that led me to write to you. My father was experiencing confusion and was not recognizing his own home. At times, we go for a walk and this sometimes calm him down, while other times he will take a taxi to go to his home or work but he does not know how to communicate this to the driver.
I never tell the driver in front of my dad that he has dementia. I usually pull them aside and tell them and to please have patience. They usually are either friendly about it or irritated. We met an irritated one last night and my dad sat in the car before I could pull the taxi driver aside.
The conversation between the taxi driver and my dad was not going well. They both were getting frustrated because my dad didn’t know the details of where he wanted to go. I asked the taxi driver to pull over so I can have a chat with him and that is when I told him and he still was just more concerned about where he wanted to go.
He stated, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” I just wanted him to have patience with my dad. I asked him to ask my dad shall we turn here and get him to choose different directions a few times then head back home without saying we are going back.
When it came time to go back, the taxi driver had already forgotten I had told him not to say going back. He was very rude and didn’t want to do the drive. When we got back and it came time to pay, he kept saying it was not his fault and that he didn’t know where we wanted to go.
The cost was high, of course. I was so upset with the taxi driver and my dad still wanted to drive around. I told my dad we would find another taxi driver who could handle the drive, and we did find a kind and patient taxi driver. My concern is that this taxi driver never heard of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Do drivers of public transportation get the awareness as I am sure they must experience these circumstances?
A: Great concerns! I am sorry about your experience with the taxi driver. I love how discreet you are with your dad’s condition. I will suggest you have on hand a card to hand to the driver next time, telling the public service person about your dad’s condition and to have patience. You can receive printed cards from the St. Lucia Alzheimer & Dementia Association. Email and request them to email a PDF to you. This will help in those emergency situations and it is discreet.
Secondly, I agree taxi drivers do need more awareness. It would help them cope and be friendlier to their clients. Any business can request an awareness session with the association. They can come out and do an awareness session; they just need to contact the association and schedule it.
Q: Dear Regina, How do I get my mom to accept a caregiver? She has fired every one of them? She is not safe to be left alone. She will not eat regularly and sometimes forgets to shower and has left the stove on. I am so worried.
A: This is common and very challenging. My suggestion is to make a list of all the things your mom likes and dislikes. Next, talk to her about getting help if she needs and ask her what she would like from the help. If she is refusing to talk about it, wait for a time that she is in a good mood. Have a conversation about you wanting help and ask her what she would look for in someone to help.
You are asking her to help you choose a good person. This will involve her, so get her insight on what would make her comfortable. The conversation is respecting her as a person with value and not being told you have to do this. She is not a child and doesn’t want to feel that others are treating or seeing her that way. She may have difficulties but she is not stupid nor is she a child and this is how she is gaining control and self-respect — by firing someone that makes her feel incompetent.
After you have gained her insight and put together what she has voiced and what you know about her, you can share this information with the next person you hire. If your mom feels she does not need help, then you must introduce the person as your friend and that you are having a social visit. The person must learn to socialize with your mom and then have the caregiver ask your mom if she can stop by in a day or so for tea or whatever the connection is.
This is not easy, so make sure the person is trained or has really good experience.
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