I learned with Dotty that a person who is deeply forgetful will mirror your behavior.
If you complain, argue, and try to explain how "their" actions are not "right" you will end up with a person who is unhappy, difficult, and often challenging.
It all boils down to cause and effect.
For years, Dotty and I both lived a life that can best be described as burdensome.
She would say NO and I would give up.
She would say something mean and I would argue with her.
I would try to explain to her why she should do what I wanted her to do and she would refuse.
The actions I took, and the behaviors I expressed, during those early years had a cumulative effect and caused -- an ever growing burden.
Fortunately, we finally got off the path that lead to never ending burden, and found the path that lead to Joy.
This began after I decided to start looking at the world from Dotty's point of view. I then discovered Alzheimer's World.
Instead of blaming Dotty, I began to accept my caregiver responsibility.
It was my responsibility to create a positive environment and atmosphere.
In Alzheimer's World it was easier to accept, think positively, smile and laugh. So I did.
Eventually we established a daily routine that lead to success.
A smile, hug, and positive tone. A start to our day filled with shared action and activity.
We went to the gym together.
Ate lunch together.
When out into the bright light every day.
Went out on Friday nights and socialized.
We did all of this together.
My attitude changed. I became more and more positive. My thoughts and actions were positive.
Remarkably, Dotty became a mirror image of my own attitudes.
So instead of complaining, venting, and allowing actions that are common to most Alzheimer's patients anger me or bend me out of shape, I accepted them as part of my caregiver day and effort.
One by one all those actions that seemed so disconcerting and burdensome faded away. Dotty just stopped doing them. We were too busy living our life. We didn't have time to complain.
In the last 18 months our morning started with Harvey, and ended with ice cream.
Dotty started her day with a smile on her face, and ended the day with a smile in her stomach.
It was really all about discovery. Discovering how to smile and be happy. Discovering the components of a healthy environment and routine.
Discovering how to think positive, feel positive, how to take positive action, and create positive feelings.
The path to Joy.
Some of you will say or think, I can't do that with my loved one. We are different.
Thinking those negative thoughts will ensure you live a life filled with burden.
On the other hand, you can first accept that it is the deep forget that drives the actions of persons living with Alzheimer's or a related dementia.
You must accept that it is you who needs to change, and you need to stop playing the blame game.
If you think positive and act positive you will see the person in the mirror, the person who is deeply forgetful, start smiling and acting positive.
Caregiving really is about cause and effect. It is also about the acceptance of responsibility.
You are responsible for "their" actions.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room