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  • Some Things are Better Left Unsaid


    As a Caregiver or either the formal or informal variety we can all agree that our interactions with those with Dementia can be challenging. As many people start to become symptomatic, even before a confirmed diagnosis is made, how we react to them can be critical towards maintaining that relationship lifeline as the disease progresses.

    Here’s some helpful tips on things we should try to avoid saying to those with Dementia:

    "Don't you remember?"

    Alzheimer's dementia robs the brain of its ability to remember. There is damage to the specialized area of the brain (the hippocampus) which acts as a filing clerk.

    It's job is to take new information, sort it and file it away to be used later. When the hippocampus isn’t working, new information that enters the brain just dissolves away as if it never happened.

    So, when you ask someone with Alzheimer's dementia whether they remember, the response will either be an adamant, "No, you never told me that," or a wistful, "Oh yes, I remember now that you tell me.”

    "Let me explain this new thing to you"

    Damage to the hippocampus also interferes with the ability to learn. Well-meaning caregivers often try to introduce a new phone, microwave or process because it seems easier, simpler or safer.

    But teaching new information to someone with Alzheimer's dementia is difficult, if not impossible. Repetition, printed instructions and signs may be helpful, but sometimes old and reliable is better than new and easier.

    "Why did you do that?" 

    Why did they order a barbecue from the shopping channel? Why did they give out their personal information to a telephone solicitor? Why did they put their wallet in the microwave?

    The typical answer to that question is usually, "I don't know," or "I did no such thing!"

    So, don't ask! Most caregivers learn to expect the unexpected. But they also realize that when safety is an issue, it’s time to step up and step in.

    This might include disabling a TV channel, using call-block services or even changing living arrangements.

    Small changes can make a huge difference in keeping our loved ones’ happy and safe, regardless of their conditions. We know the power of connectivity with friends and family is one of the single most important ways to retain brain health. Having some tips to better foster those bonds can only help make lives better all around.

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