What would be the 3 things you can do to show commitment and love to someone with dementia?
Hey Irvine, Committment is a first cousin to Love so to speak . If you can be consistent in your actions to whomever, it is just as pure as unconditionally "loving" them. They will always know whether they are in their right mind or not, that you are there! Remain consistent, always take the time to listen to them, especially if they are reaching out to you. Last but not least do what you must and can to make life for them enjoyable. Depending on how well you know them, do things with/for them that they once did as well as enjoyed that will bring a smile to their face. A great way of reversing things and allowing their mind to go back in time so to speak!
I have written a couple hubs on this, as my mom is suffering from dementia. This is what I have done and continue to do:
For my own benefit, I learn as much as I can about what she has, why she has it, what in the way of support systems including nutritional supplements and day care centers exist in her area.
She was not washing her hair, so I set up a salon appointment to have her hair washed twice a week at her health club (my stepfather drives her there three times a week so I knew it would not be inconvenient for him to get her there).
She was no longer cleaning the house, so I set up a biweekly cleaning lady to come in and spiff it up, as well as be a spy for me.
I live 1000 miles away and visit as often as I am able, but other family members are the ones on the fast track to care. My niece now goes to her house on Thursdays to take her out for dinner and get her to do projects. She needs a job and this relieves guilt my sister in law feels for not being able to get out of work to help Mom.
What I do on a regular basis:
1. Every month, I send her flowers. I found a local florist who is charming and less expensive than the FTDs and I have a standing order with him each month, to deliver Mom flowers on the first Tuesday. This is a tangible expression of how much she is loved. She needs to see and feel the love, as she forgets it exists at times and feels forgotten.
2. Every week, I send her snail mail. (Okay, I have fallen off the wagon on this since New Years, as my mother in law who lives locally is requiring care. But I did it last year and intend to begin again. This will motivate me- thanks!) I do this so that she can read my news over and over. And again, hold a tangible expression of my love for her.
3. I call her every day. Some days she is better than others, but she is always happy to hear my voice. She doesn't remember what I say to her. She repeats the same questions after I have answered them again and again. She doesn't even remember I called, if my stepdad asks her later. But in the moment of the conversation, she is there with me.
Dementia is heartbreaking. I send you hugs and courage.
A very thought provoking question that brought to mind the three things that I believe were most important in my relationship with my dad during his battle with dementia;
Listen with your heart not just your ears; I learned early on that sometimes dishes could stay in the sink, laundry could wait, if dad wanted to talk, even if it was to tell me some story that I had heard a million time, it was very important to him that he be heard. A person who is suffering with dementia has many fears, some real and some imagined, it is incredibly important that they still feel as though they have something relevant to contribute, and if you really listen with your heart, you might often be surprised to find out that what they have to say is still very relevant. Talk to them, just as you would if they didn't have dementia. I never stopped telling my dad everything that was going on in and around his life. I talked to him about his business, (which I was now running for him), would seek his advice, tell him what was going on with the renovations on his house, some days, he would have answers for me, and some days he wouldn't, but that wasn't as important as him knowing that he was still relevant to both his life and ours.
Be their advocate; Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals have a job to do and their own agenda, a person with dementia may not be able to as easily find the words to express themselves, and they need an advocate who can say the words that they cannot themselves quite find.
Be consistent in your involvement in their life. This is especially important when dealing with hospital or extended care facility patients, They may have no real sense of time, or they may be very aware of it, but if you are supposed to be there, then be there. One day in the hospital with no visitors can seem like a week to some patients. Show up and be present when you are with them, sometimes they just need someone there to hold their hand, or sit quietly by their side so that they know that they are not alone.
This question reminds me the painful experience I went through during those ten years of my husband's neurological illness - I had the feeling I was married to another man.
I did not put him in a nursing home, I took care of him 24/7 and I say there are more than just three things we do to show our commitment and our love to someone who became ill. I am glad I did it.
To follow the progression of his dementia was extremely sad though.
Everything passes.... what one day was my present now belongs to my past.
(1) Tell them you love them every day - no matter what. (2) Think about some of their favorite things - colors, scents, clothing, music, movies, etc - surround them with those things. Sometimes their long term memory remains more intact - so surrounding them with the things that make them feel safe is a great thing to do. (3) Spend time with them. Whether it's going for a walk, if you both are able; sitting on the couch talking and holding hands; sitting in the yard or outdoors, watching TV together - whatever is comfortable for them, that time just being close is precious.
Every day can be different and your loved one may not always remember what you've said or even who you are - but the above three things can warm their heart and connect you together regardless. Sending warm thoughts your way and to all who are facing this with ones they love.
Spend time with them. Be patient. Give gentle reminders realizing you still might be rebuffed.
My Mother suffered from dementia before her death at age 87.
I never really thought about the things I did but here they are:
i treated her as i always had, with love, even when she did not know who i was...
i read to her
i told her many stories of lovely times she shared with her family...these stories were shared over and over and over
There are already many great suggestions here, but I would just add an emphasis on finding music from their past that makes them happy. With both my grandma and my great-grandma, even once they had almost no memory left, they could remember how to sing their favorite songs from their youth. At the end, my mom had a CD player going almost all the time in my grandma's room with her favorite songs and it kept her relaxed and happy.
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