Lately, I’ve been asked about how to reason with a demented person, and it makes me laugh. Maybe I’m a little perverse, but if you know me, or have read any of my stuff, you know that humor is my favorite defense mechanism.
Having lived with this knowledge of the evils of dementia for several years now, and because I UNDERSTAND THIS so very well, I take for granted that EVERYONE knows it already. I need to be reminded that there are millions of people who haven’t gotten the memo yet. Thank you for reminding me. This mission is important and there’s a lot of educating to do.
So here goes: YOU CANNOT REASON WITH A DEMENTED PERSON. Saying anything to someone who is in cognitive decline has extremely limited value. Why?
- Demented people can’t learn anymore, so they can’t retain what you tell them.
- They are often HALLUCINATING. They see all kinds of things that we cannot. And what they see in their minds is just as real, if not more so, than anything you could possibly tell, show, or be to them.
- Their ability to “reason,” apply “logic” or comprehend language is diminishing, because their condition is damaging their brains.
- The information they are receiving from inside and outside is terrifying, especially in the beginning, when they are still high-functioning. They are finding that they can no longer trust what they perceive, and that they are losing the ability to be the person they have valued being. They often suspect that someone else is doing things to trick them. They become paranoid, agitated, frustrated, angry and unpleasant. I dare say you would, too.
- They do a good job of acting as if they understand what you’re saying, especially in the early stages. They’re usually good at “covering.” Because those of us who love them are in denial that they are as sick as they are, and we want to BELIEVE they comprehend, the ruse is successful for a while.
The great author, Robert Heinlein, famously said: “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” And so it is with the demented. Don’t waste your valuable time annoying people (including yourself) and getting nowhere. Spend the time learning more about what they’re going through (reading this will help) and sharing affectionate moments with them instead. They don’t need to be corrected or convinced. They do need care and love.
And unlike pigs, demented people often can sing (and may surprise you by recalling lyrics), and will find enjoyment in connecting with music from their past. The emotional centers of their brains survive longer than the other parts, so connect there. You and your loved one will both feel inexplicably better as a result.
“Dementia Sucks: A Caregiver’s Journey – With Lessons Learned” is now on sale.
You can buy it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Bik4YW
And Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dementia-sucks-tracey-s-lawrence/1127922824
Or just saunter into your favorite independent bookstore and ask for a copy. Really. That will help more than just about anything else you can do. Why? Because then they will have to buy it in order to sell it to you. And they’ll probably buy more than one. And then they’ll display “Dementia Sucks” where browsers can see it. And browsers will see the book and want one for their own. And they really need to know what’s in this book.
So thank you for visiting, thank you for caring and if there’s anything you want to know about dementia, feel free to ask. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll point you to someone who does. That’s the way I roll.
On May 15th, 2018, “Dementia Sucks” will be available. The book that came from this blog will be a real paperback book (and also available as a Kindle edition). The wait is nearly over. Order yours now!
I told you I was going to do it. I took the posts from this humble blog, weeded out the ones that might hurt the living (hey, I’ve got scruples) and created a manuscript. One month after committing to getting it published, I got a deal. “Dementia Sucks: A Caregiver’s Journey with Lessons Learned” will be published by Post Hill Press on May 15th, 2018. And you can pre-order your very own copy, right now, on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Better yet, march into your local bookstore and tell them you want to order it. (Don’t you love bookstores? I know do!) That would help me a whole lot and the world a lot more. Because if you know anything about dementia, it really DOES suck. And if people knew more about it, fewer caregivers would die before their loved ones, and more of them would emerge intact. Thanks for your support!
Special Offer: for the first 50 people who send me proof of purchase of “Dementia Sucks”, I will send you a beautiful and useful Dementia Sucks fan!
Where the fan idea came from!
Mom’s a morning person these days
…then you’ll love my new book, “Dementia Sucks: A Caregiver’s Journey with Lessons Learned.”
The original posts from this blog chronicled my journey with my mother, Rosalind, as she suffered five years of cognitive decline. A year after she died in April 2015, I revisited what I’d written and thought, hmm, this could be a book. My publisher agreed.
As terrible as her situation was, a whole lot of hilarious and unexpected stuff happened. It was challenging, infuriating and heartbreaking, but in retrospect, it’s a good story. And it’s important for people to know, because millions of people are going to suffer before a cure is found, and we have to be ready.
Dementia really, truly does suck. But you can survive it. And I can show you how.
“Dementia Sucks” will be published by Post Hill Press in May 2018. Comment below and I’ll let you know when you can order your copy.
And by all means, “like” the Dementia Sucks Facebook page.