and "YOU" "ME".
My point. The dreaded word YOU is not conducive to effective Alzheimer's caregiving. When you argue with someone did you ever notice the conversation is often dominated by the word "YOU". The word "YOU" can be combative.
What are some alternatives to engage someone with Alzheimer's, and get them to do something that is needed and necessary. Let's stick to the topic -- brushing.
Mom, WE need to brush OUR teeth.
Mom, why don't WE brush OUR teeth together.
Mom, I want to be sure that OUR teeth stay nice and healthy, why don't WE brush our teeth.
I might suggest here that you use the kitchen sink. Get out two toothbrushes and two tubes of toothpaste. I suggest you get your Alzheimer's patient strategically set, standing right in front of their toothbrush and toothpaste which is sitting strategically right next to the sink.
Turn on the water. Pick up your brush, and start brushing. You are now demonstrating what to do. And, you are doing it -- brushing your teeth.
Don't say a word. Brush. Spit. Brush.
Finally, make a short comment. This feels good. I don't want to end up in the dentist chair, this is why I am brushing.
Keep brushing, spitting, and smiling in between. Don't say a word.
Put down your brush. Pick up their brush. Put some toothpaste on the brush. Hand the brush over. Don't say a word. Do it while smiling and without talking. Remember, some Alzheimer's patients can only do one thing at a time. They can't multi-task like you and me. This means they can't talk and brush their teeth at the same time.
If you patient doesn't brush, or if they say something negative, move the brush a little bit so they can see it, and don't say a word. Smile. Relax. Smile.
Finally, say, its up to you. Walk away.
Let me advise you. The more you talk, cajole, or push the less chance that it is going to happen. Sooner or later you'll learn, in Alzheimer's World, fewer words get you more.
Now this technique might work the very first time, or it might take 19 days. You must be patient, and you must remain positive. Please remember, if you make it like you are trying to pull teeth, you'll get what you don't want.
I doubt you will get far by pulling on the reins of a mule. Just remember, this is no mule you are working with. Your Alzheimer's patient has been brushing their teeth for a long time. However, no one was standing around telling them what they had to do. Or, all the bad things that were going to happen if they didn't brush.
Recap. Brush with them. Demonstrate how to brush by brushing your own teeth. Do it as a team. The WE approach.
If it doesn't work in the morning, try it again in the afternoon, again in the evening. Try it several times each day. Try to determine if there is a better or best time.
Relax. The world is not coming to an end. Don't worry. They'll brush. Most likely when you are not looking.
PS... Brushing together builds team spirit and a feeling of connectedness. Don't go for perfection.
Most importantly, don't give up.
I believe in you, now its time for you to start believing in yourself.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,680 articles with more than 512,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room