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Dementia: Stop Fighting, Start Accepting

Posted Mar 27 2011 12:00am

A recent article in the New York Times struck me as a great reminder of how simple the care of persons with dementia can be if we stop trying to control things and instead, we just allow things "to be".

The article was called, "Giving Alzheimer's Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate".  Discussing some basic stress reducing techniques used by a skilled nursing facility in Arizona, the article focuses on how we as caregivers, whether at home or working in a facility, have the ability to let go of how we think things should be.  Instead of automatically deciding what should happen in a particular encounter with a person with dementia, we need to tune into the moods of the person and go with it.  As the author mentions, if someone wants an experience that gives them joy, we should give it.  They use the example of a client wanting to bathe at 2 am and they encouraged it. Sounds so simple but then why is that so hard to do?

I think that it is hard because as caregivers we feel we must keep up the routine and manage everything. But it is an important reminder that letting go a bit can have great rewards to the person with dementia. In fact, research has shown that giving the person with dementia more freedom can actually decrease negative behaviors.

And what can be bad about an approach where chocolate is given?

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