When someone with dementia including Alzheimer’s forgets something, it can be almost a reflex action for loved ones and caregivers to “correct” the memory.
And if you’re not looking closely, you may miss how traumatic the “corrected memory” is.
Recently I came across this video with Swoozie Kurtz, who cares for her elderly mother with dementia. And her story of how she explains her father’s absence to her mother is a delightful story…
A few months after my mother passed, one of her closest friends called. She wanted to talk to my mother, and had forgotten that Mother had passed. She also forgot that for over a year before passing, my mother couldn’t hear on the phone and became upset so wouldn’t talk on the phone. The friend was calling long distance from a nursing home. I had no idea how she’d take the news, or if anyone was in the room to comfort her if there was a problem.
I know how awful it can be to have to deliver bad news over the phone, and then have someone react in shock. I didn’t want to do that, so instead we had a lovely conversation. I told her mother wasn’t at home, and I’d pass the message she called on to her. My mother’s friend seemed happy and upbeat during the call, so I think it was a success.
Often someone with dementia will argue that their memories are “true”. If the well-meaning person trying to “correct” their memories continues, it can lead to frustration and anger.
Accepting the memories as “correct” is easier and usually kinder. And if you’ve ever seen several people describe an event like an accident, you know that there are usually several versions of the event. We all see things through our own perspective, and in accepting your carereceiver’s memories as true you can reduce stress — both yours and theirs.
This post starts a weekly series of posts that include videos about caregiving. You can see all the posts in this series by going to the Caregiving With Purpose’s Resources Tab and clicking on the drop down menu item called Videos.
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