I married my mission field full well knowing his dementia needed me as much as I needed a friend.

 Pink Sunset.jpgPink Sunset by connie anderson newton

I found a Guidepost Magazine in my pile of magazines. I’m guessing one of the ladies from our  Bible Study group dropped it off without wanting to push it on me. I caught the white print on the front page that said 7 KEYS TO CARING FOR LOVED ONE WITH DEMENTIA. So I’m passing on theses creative ways to share our love for those who care for.

APOLOGIZE AND TAKE THE BLAME: Even when you’re not at fault, an apology defuses a tense situation. Keep it simple: “I’m sorry I misunderstood.”

BE PART OF MEANINGFUL ACTIVITIES: Research shows that participating in physical, mental and social activities  reduces stress and anxiety for people with dementia. Try art or music or going for a walk.  If a group outing is too much, invite a good friend over for lunch.

CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT:  People with dementia can become agitated by or fixated on something in their surroundings.   They might get set by newspapers on the kitchen counter or want to use power tools they see in the garage.   Move disturbing or potentially dangerous items out of the way.  Create a calm, well-ordered place for your loved one to go to, such as a porch swing by the flowers she planted.

DOING “LIFE”: may lead to a fight when you’re helping one get dressed, stay calm. Say, “I can see you are uncomfortable in that sweater.  Let me get you a different one.”

ENTER THEIR WORLD: The person with dementia makes sense to herself.   Don’t argue with or correct mom if she’s confused or delusional.   Go along with it.  If Mom says,  “I’m waiting for Dad top ick em up” (and Dad is deceased) say, “Tell me again how you and Dad first met.”

FOCUS: By redirecting your loved one’s attention away from something stressful and toward something pleasant.   When Mom gets anxious, for example, encourage her to cuddle the family pet, or show her a funny YouTube video or photographs of the grandkids.

GIVE SIMPLE CHOICES: Your family member may feel as if he no longer has any say over his life.   Letting him make small decisions helps him feel in control.   Ask “Would you like eggs or cereal for breakfast?” instead of setting down a bowl of cornflakes.

I rewrote the article, with my apologizes for turning them into the ABC’s. And it seems I have already “learned” to “apologized.” Today I’m planning to work on what I can do, to permit my best friend to live his life, within a calm and happy home.

P.S. I’m not the first to take on a project like this. A teacher, wished to raise a Downs Syndrome child. My relatives, a doctor and his wife, found they had birthed a Downs Syndrome son. They put the child up for adoption, and there was a professor and his wife, who were looking for this chance to give this son a very good life.

Now all I ask, is for my friends, to understand they too have part in helping me with this plan to integrate our lives into the lives of others, without mocking, and shocking themselves, to the cruelty they exhibit, by not understand the pain of dementia.