Don’t Be in Denial
When a loved one shows signs of dementia it’s painful to acknowledge it. It’s common for their friends and loved ones to be in denial. It’s easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, push the symptoms to the back of your mind and find other ways to avoid thinking even for a minute that the person may have dementia. I wrote more about this in an article entitled “Alzheimer’s and the Devil Called Denial.”
The problem with denial is it doesn’t lead you to take your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete workup. And the problem with that is that sometimes dementia is caused by health issues other than Alzheimer’s. As I stated in another article, “What If It’s Not Alzheimer’s?“ some of those problems can be treated or even reversed. And if it is Alzheimer’s the earlier treatment is started, the better.
Don’t Ask “Do You Remember?”
Asking a person with Alzheimer’s if they remember something is a common mistake that’s easy to make. It’s almost as though we think we can jog their memory. But we rarely do. They have probably forgotten the event in question. That’s what people with Alzheimer’s do. They forget. So it’s better to say, “I remember when…” and then tell them a story.
Don’t Argue With or Contradict the Person
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s so easy to contradict or argue with them when they say things that are total nonsense. And they typically say a lot of things that fall into this category. For instance, they may think they are a child again or they may tell you stories that couldn’t possibly be true.
But the fact of the matter is that you can never win an argument with people who have dementia. They will stick to their guns to the bitter end! It’s much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument that would spoil your time with your loved one. For more detailed advice on this issue see my article, “The Contentious Alzheimer’s Patient - You Can Be Right or You Can Have Peace.”