How does one define loss? Is it the passing of a friend or loved one? Loss could be knowing a loved one’s presence has been altered, perhaps to a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Experts refer to Alzheimer’s Disease as “the long goodbye.” Loved ones continue life, but those with Alzheimer’s Disease are not present as they once were. Tom Brokaw has said “Dealing with Dementia patients is a delicate dance for family members, caregivers, and the afflicted. It is one step compassion, two steps patience, three steps deception.” Understand, Dementia steals a little life from everyone.
Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Put yourself in the shoes of one with Alzheimer’s Disease. Every question asked demands a thought process in order to achieve an answer. Ask direct questions. Connect with a favorite memory. Page through a picture album. Wait to be recognized, and if not … pretend.
Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Communication is difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. Correct words are problematical; objects often have different names; trains of thought may be lost. Speak directly to a loved one, then wait and listen. Please do not make assumptions as to what your loved one is saying. Laugh at appropriate moments, but always be respectful and take time for conversations to evolve.
Deception: the action of deceiving someone. Alzheimer’s presents an unusual view of reality. How important is it to make a point or win an argument? If you are thought to be someone else, play along. If they imagine preparing for a trip, help make plans or pack a suitcase! Should friendly “little people” be envisioned while visiting go ahead and invite them to tea. The best productions are those well-acted. Of course, unfriendly “visitors” should be “escorted” away. Honesty, to one with Alzheimer’s Disease, is not always the best policy.
Bridge to Better Living has known the “dance” of Alzheimer’s before it opened its doors in 2010. Founder Mary Ann Stallings’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for over six years. Each staff member has had personal experience with the “long goodbye.” When working with a client who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or their family, Transition Consultants are well aware of how important it is to locate the most appropriate Senior Living Community. Bridge to Better Living is with you on this journey. Contact them today.