The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Roadside Lessons

Clatter, clatter, clatter. Not what we want to hear as we drive or RV from one campsite to another. We stop get out to find our exhaust pipe on the ground, run over by one of our rear tires.  We were miles from any town. A service station and a huge flea market barn are the only buildings in sight. Jim drives the RV, with the pipe dragging underneath and the tire shredded, to the service station. At least, we aren’t parked right on the road.

My call for roadside aid adds to the stress as I try to navigate through a forest of automated choices and long waits only to find that the real person I finally reach is the wrong one. I’m sure that normally, I’d have had no trouble with their system, but now I feel as though they are intentionally trying to make a difficult situation worse. After going through their complicated process several times, I talk to three different people, telling my whole story and over each time, before I reach one who seems to know her business. She tells me if they can find a tow truck big enough to tow a 20,000 pound RV, we’ll likely have to have it stored since it is Saturday and the repair shops aren’t open. And that cost of the tow will be well over what our insurance pays because we are in nowhere land, repair-shop-wise.

We count up the likely expenses as we wait for her to find a tow-truck. They finally put us in contact with a tow company but it will be a while before they can come out. Stress is going up for both of us. How are we going to handle this? Where will we stay if the RV is stored? How will we stretch our budget to pay for the extra cost of the tow? The questions just keep on coming. We are on our own. There isn’t anyone to call for help, except for the insurance people, of course. And we are independent. We prefer not to ask for help anyway. When I worry, I get irritable. And when Jim gets upset, he quits talking. It’s a good thing. Likely, anything he’d say would have set me off. Not the way to support each other, and we both know it, but stress is ruling.

The wait seemed to be taking forever and so I decide to go visit the flea market. A sign offering RV storage prompts me to ask if they have room to store the RV for the weekend.

“Sure,” they say. That part is easy—a business exchange. The hard part is being willing to let go of doing it all—even when I know we can’t.

I take a deep breath and say, “What I really need is someone to crawl under the RV and see what needs to be done so we can move it here.” Then I explain about the exhaust pipe. Years ago, Jim would have done it but those days are over.

They don’t hesitate. “Glad to help,” they say. “And of course, you can stay in your RV in our yard as long as you need to. Oh, and here’s an electric outlet for you to plug into!” Once again, I am reminded how most people love to help. You just have to ask! Quickly I call the tow company and cancel the tow request. It was just in time. The truck was already on its way!

By Monday, with our new friends’ help and advice, we have figured out how to get the RV repaired without having it towed. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been willing to let go of my stressed out, we have to do it all feeling and ask for help! We are still dealing with the results of the accident but it hasn’t been nearly as expensive as it could have been. And we met some wonderful people!

OK, we aren’t caregivers, but the moral of this story is that anyone can become so stressed that they don’t think clearly. That is, anyone can start exhibiting stress-related dementia symptoms, including people like us who teach about that very thing! But thankfully, I was able to reach out and ask for help. And you can too. Even when you are feeling overly stressed you can do this. Of course, it helps to know who to ask. It pays to plan ahead and have a list of possible helpers handy. You won’t always be lucky enough to have your incident right next to the very help you need.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, July 27, 2018

When They Don't Remember

Today’s blog is about what happens when a Person living with dementia (Person for short) can no longer recognize family. Care partners sometimes think they are no longer needed. Even in a facility where there is a good staff-resident ratio, the family care partner is a vital team member.

The memory care facility where I volunteer has a nice comfortable 5 residents per staff. (This is exceptionally low. The ration is often 8-1. HW) When staffer’s caseload is made up of mobile and continent residents, this works well. But the next day, the staffer’s caseload may be made up of four incontinent residents with one in a wheel-chair. Then, the staffer just can’t give the residents great care. Likewise, flu can make all five residents sick and incontinent. Families of residents need to show up often enough to be available and able to help in such situations and to advocate for changes if they are needed. -- Connie

Family can find it painful to visit a loved one who no longer remembers them, but it remains highly important. A resident who had regular family visits will almost always get better care.

That’s the physical reason families should continue to visit. There’s an equally strong emotional reason too.

My mother-in-law’s memory has failed. She still loves ice cream and so we usually bring her a cone and sit with her while she eats it. But then my husband, Randy, wants to leave. She usually recognizes him but she keeps asking the same questions over and over. He says, “If she can’t remember from one minute to the next, she surly can’t remember that I was here even a few minutes after I’ve left. What good does it do to go?” -- Sue

What Randy isn’t aware of, and what many truly caring, but frustrated, care partners don’t realize is that there is a difference between physical memory and emotional memory. True, Randy’s mom may not remember he’s been there, she will remember the emotions she experienced during his visit.  That’s why it is so important to help her experience as many positive emotions as possible.

Here are some suggestions for Randy:

Use patience. Yes, she will say the same thing over and over, but your ATTITUDE is what counts. Although the words don’t last, the feelings do. So focus on that instead of being impatient with having to say the same thing over and over. Think of your words as vehicles for transporting positive feelings from you to her.

Use touch. Just sit and hold her hand. Give her lots of hugs. Hugs when you arrive, hugs when you leave. If she is comfortable with you doing so, sit close enough to sling your arm around her shoulder. Touch travels to the brain via a different pathway than words do and it lasts longer too. Gentle, non-custodial (voluntary) touching also imparts caring and love.

Use music. Like touch, this is another pathway and it will last longer than words. You may find that it will actually help her to think more clearly and remember a little longer as well. Music can trigger residual emotions…emotions remembered from earlier events. This can be very enjoyable as long as you work to elicit only positive memories! Develop a playlist of her favorite songs. and sing along with her. That will add the positive feeling of togetherness.

Use food, or other favorite things. Randy is good at this. The food he brings leaves her with a memory of the pleasant feelings she had while she ate it. Ice cream is a dementia favorite. Sweet is often the last taste to fail, and the cold smooth texture is also pleasurable. And so is the still present emotional memory of other pleasant times when ice cream was consumed.

Do something with her. The fact that you are doing it with her is more important than what it is. This will bring about feelings of togetherness, self-esteem, and affections that will last long after you are gone and the event is forgotten. Look through a photo album, sing songs together, pray together, eat an ice cream cone too.

The bottom line is to do whatever you can while you visit to a) make sure her physical care is the best it can be and b) provide her with lots of positive emotions to remember later.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:

A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dealing with Resistance, Part 2

Notice: We are well into our summer season of traveling and from this day until the middle of October, when we return home, I will be posting blogs every two weeks.

This week's blog is the second in a two-week series of blogs in answer to Joan's post:

The main time my husband I argue is when he goes in his depends and refuses to let me change him. It is a horrible nightmare. Wish I knew what to do. Joan

Last week's blog was about Joan doing her homework, setting the scene and practicing being positive. Now, she needs to take a deep breath, put on her smile and go to work. If you haven't read last week's blog go do it now before you read more.

Joan, if your husband is resisting, he likely sees you as his tormentor. As long as this is so, just being positive isn't enough. Instead of trying to reason with him (hopeless!) or ordering him to be compliant (anger-making!), agree with him and become his ally.
  • Help him to feel heard: Listen. Nod your head. Agree with his complaints.
  • Help him to feel understood. Coo soothing words of sympathy. 
  • Change the focus of his anger from you to what you want to change, in this case, his soiled pants. "Those awful pants are making you uncomfortable, aren't they? Let's get rid of them."
(Warning: Gentle touch is a great help, but not until the anger is defused. Otherwise, you are in danger of being hit as your husband strikes out in defense.)

Now that you are both on the same side, you can address any remaining fears. Work to figure out what the triggers are.
  • One of them may be you! He may be reacting to his fear of giving up control--of being treated like a child instead of an adult. Work to treat this like a cooperative event as much as possible. Let him do what he can himself and include him in the task every way you can, even if it is simply to tell him what "we" are doing.
  • Use your knowledge of your husband to think of any other fears that might be driving his resistance and think of ways to neutralize them.
With his fears decreased, his anger will dissipate and he will be able to start mirroring your positive attitude. With more positive emotions in control, he will be more agreeable and less resistant. Make sure you stay positive and give him lots of kudos. You can't overdo the compliments! Gentle, un-custodial touching (that given voluntarily and not needed for the job at hand) works wonders here. If you've planned for music, use it now. Music and its rhythm can help you promote togetherness, and the idea of working together. You can sing, but if you need your husband to help you, don't expect him sing too. He can do only one thing at a time.

If he starts getting resistive again, it means the fears are returning. This is especially likely to happen if you are too task oriented. Now is the time to take advantage of his short attention span and use distraction to change his focus from what he's beginning to worry about again to something pleasant. If you wait too long, the negative emotions will take over and you'll be back to square one. A bribe often works well--"Let's get this done so we can go have some ice cream."

Once the job is done, pile on the compliments, hugs and lots of gentle touching. And go get that promised ice cream. You need it too!

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dealing with Resistance, Part 1

This next two-week series of blogs is in answer to a question from a frustrated care partner:

The main time my husband and I argue is when he goes in his depends and refuses to let me change him. It is a horrible nightmare. Wish I knew what to do. Joan

Sadly, your concern is far from unusual, Joan. It used to be that you could reason with your husband, changing his belief and changing his behavior. Reasoning is now useless. It requires thinking skills a Person living with dementia no longer has. Think of the process this way now:
  • The surrounding environmental triggers an emotion. These can also be residual, that is, something perfectly benign may trigger an old fear.
  • This emotion drives your husband's beliefs. Most driving emotions are negative. Designed to motivate, they are strong, pushy and long lasting.
  • Your husband's beliefs drive his behaviors. Once he has made up his mind, he CAN'T change it. Can't, not won't. But he can change his focus--with your help!
Your first step is to educate yourself. Most care partners simply want to know HOW to deal with these difficult issues. However, until you know WHY they are happening, you probably aren't going to be very successful. It will also be more difficult for you to take what you've learned and apply it to a different issue.
  • Learn why your husband's dementia-damaged brain won't allow him to change his mind.
  • Learn why he can change his focus and what the difference is between changing his mind and changing his focus.
  • Learn why you are the one who must change your expectations, your attitude and your actions.
  • Learn why negative emotions motivate and drive behavior while positive emotions encourage calmness and relaxation.
  • Learn why negative behavior is often triggered by the fear of something to be avoided.
  • Learn why it is so important that you start positive and stay positive, no matter what.
This information is on our website, in our past blog entries, in our books (see below) and in Teepa Snow's free YouTubes.

Next you must prepare. "Set the stage" so that there are fewer triggers--fewer things to avoid.
  • A common trigger when skin is about to be exposed is the fear of feeling cold. Make sure the bathroom is cozy warm before you even start and have all the supplies handy so the job won't take any longer than necessary.
  • If mirrors trigger the fear that a stranger is watching, remove or cover them.
  • If you can think of other ideas to help your husband feel more comfortable, implement them. It is worth the effort!
To start positive and stay positive in the face of his resistance takes practice and determination.
  • Being positive does two things. It prevents you from escalating your husband's behavior the way being frustrated would and gives him something to mirror. He can't change his emotions himself, but he can mirror yours.
  • Make the practice of being positive a part of your preparation, and think about how you can stay positive even in the face of his resistance. You want to be believed and so you must smile from your heart. It won't work otherwise!
  • Take some time just before you start to make a conscious choice to be positive no matter what. Think of the love you feel for him and be determined let it show, even in the face of his resistance.
Plan your distractions, the methods you will use to change his focus. Each person living with dementia is different and so the distractions that work best will be different for each one too.
  • Bribes are always a good bet and ice cream is a favorite. Make sure you are prepared and able to provide whatever you use as a bribe quickly.
  • Music and rhythm can help you focus on working together. Unless you plan to do the singing yourself, set up your music delivery system ahead of time so that all you have to do is push a button.
Next week: The real event!

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Disordes

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Constructive Caring, #7: Enjoying the Journey

The last blog in this series is about ways to enjoy staying positive. That's important being a positive care partner requires constant attention, constant effort. But that's OK because, the more you work on staying positive, the more enjoyable--and fun!--you will find it to be.

Meditate: Even a few minutes of meditation a day will decrease stress and improve sleep. Bonus: It also improves clarity and focus, both of which last long after the meditation is over. The goal is to give your brain a rest from all the busy, busy thinking it does. Meditation operates on the premise that your brain can do only one thing at a time. It rests your brain, adds oxygen and just makes you feel good. Here is a quick easy mediation:
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. In and out, slow and easy.
  • Do that for as long as you want. Don't worry if you find yourself blanking out or drifting off. Just go back to focusing on your breathing.
  • If you feel pulled in some other direction, if you find yourself thinking about something else, gently draw your attention back to your breathing.
  • Don't be disappointed if you find it difficult to stay focused at first. That's normal. Just keep trying.
Slow down. Take time to stop and smell the roses, look at the sunsets, notice your loved one's smile, enjoy a relaxed meal. Even talking slower is better for you. Speedy behaviors cause the motivation hormones connected with negativity to flow and make you more nervous and uncomfortable. (And here you thought that talking slower was something you did for your loved one who needed the time to process! News flash: It is also good for you.)

Listen to music. Music is magic! It can relax you or energize you. Warning! Music can also trigger negative emotions, especially anxiety. If you find a kind of music that doesn't make you feel good, avoid it. You don't need that! Find music that you do enjoy and that relaxes or energizes you and listen to it regularly. Include the PlwD*, and make it a part of your daily lives. Music travels to the brain along its own pathway and people can enjoy it long after they can use language. Sing. Dance. Be the music. The more you do this, the more positive you will feel. The positive feelings you get from music will last a long time after the music has stopped playing.

Give a gift. It doesn't have to be material. Offer a compliment, help out with a chore, do a little extra. Caregiving can become more job than "helping" but if you offer just a little bit more, an extra pat or hug, it becomes a gift. Giving a gift triggers your own feel good hormones more than once. When you choose a gift for a specific person, you will likely imagine what it will feel like to give it. Since your brain doesn't differentiate between imaginary and real, you get to enjoy a hit of feel-good hormones then. With any gift, you get a hit when you actually give it and another when the giftee shows appreciation. (That's why, when you receive a compliment, you never want to discount it. Your self-put-down deprives the donor of their return gift.)

Laugh, smile and nod. Laugh all you can. Smile at everybody. Agree with people as often as you can. Nod to music. Yes, even that works! These all cause those gift-giving and receiving hits of feel-good hormones and another from the feeling of connection when your friend laughs, smiles or nods back with you. But you don't really need a reason to laugh, smile or nod. Just do it. They trigger your body to respond as though you were saying "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Even looking for reasons to laugh, smile and nod causes your body to respond as though you were actually doing it.

Be grateful. Gratefulness is another one like laughter that doesn't need a reason. Just looking for a reason is enough to trigger those feel good hormones. Just being grateful is enough, in fact. But finding the reasons increases your good feelings even more. Like other positive behaviors, gratefulness is contagious and so make sure you share. Tell others and give examples. For a real lift, read Lisa Cooke's guest blog entry on an attitude of gratitude. (3/6/2015)
http://lewybodydementia.blogspot.com/2015/03/an-attitude-of-gratitude.html

Use second-hand positivity. We match what we see, so just looking at something positive will make you feel positive. A cute puppy, a picture of a child's happy smile, an enjoyable movie, even a photo of a past happy event. In fact, you don't even need the photo. Just day dream about some past joy and you will get to relive the same happy feelings.

Play. Set aside some time to play, to do something just for fun, whatever that might be for you. Like music and meditation, the relaxation and clarity you get from playing will last for a long time after you finish up and go back to work. That's why kids have recesses!

(reference)

OK, now it is your turn. What do you do to keep on feeling positive?


Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

We love and welcome comments but we will not publish any that advertise a product or a commercial website. This is especially true for testimonials about miraculous Parkinson's cures and marijuana.

* Acronyms:
AD: Alzheimer's disease
BPSD: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
DLB: Dementia with Lewy bodies, where cognitive/behavioral issues occur first
LBD: Lewy body dementia, an umbrella term for both DLB and PDD
MCI: Mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
PD: Parkinson's disease
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia, where mobility issues occur first
PlwD: person/people living with dementia
PlwPD, LBD, PDD, AD, etc.: person/people living with PD, LBD, etc.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Friday, June 22, 2018

Constructive Caring, #6: Dealing with Externals

The past blogs have mostly been about how you can think and act more constructively and make your own life and that of the PlwD's* happier, healthier and just plain easier. But sometimes, life intervenes and things beyond your control happen that are difficult to deal with. Nevertheless, you still have the power to choose how to deal with these unhappy events. By making conscious choices about how you view them, and how you think about them you can limit their negative effect on you and on your loved one.
  • Look for the blessings. Instead of complaining, look for how the situation adds something to your life...interest, learning, experiences, etc "The worst service I ever had" becomes, "I'm glad we went there. Now I'll know not to go again!" "I lost again. I'm so unlucky." becomes "I sure had fun playing that game with you."
  • Look for the silver lining even when things are truly bad and painful. You will naturally have some negative feelings--and rightfully so. Nevertheless, instead of allowing yourself to wallow in the negativity, look for that silver lining. "My mother has passed away and I really miss her but I feel so fortunate to have had her in my life."."
  • Avoid feeling guilty. People often use guilt as an effort to control past events--it doesn't work. Your guilt will not change anything except to make you feel worse. Instead make a conscious choice to find something to feel better about. Instead of "I feel so bad that I wasn't always a good daughter, think, "We had some great times together."
  • Look for the humor. Sometimes you may have to dig to find the positives but make it a fun challenge. "This trip is so disastrous that I know we'll laugh about later."
Criticism. One of the most difficult things a care partner has to deal with is criticism from family and even friends of a situation that they may not know as much as about as they think they do. Even when meant well, criticism can be difficult to deal with and if a person is already into self-blame, it can be catastrophic. Here are some guidelines to making criticism a little easier to deal with:
  • Listen carefully. This is often the hardest part, especially if you don't believe the criticism is fair.
  • Take a deep breath and think before you respond.
  • Who is this about? "Is this about me, or them?" Is the them the PlwD*, who feels bad, and sees you as responsible for everything. Is the them a family member who is in denial or uneducated about the situation?
  • Can this help me? Even if it is more about the other person than you, could the criticism be constructive? How? Will it add more information, more ideas? Or will it add to your own self-blame, guilt or worry?
  • Choose to reply or let it go. Feel free to ignore a criticism if it isn't helpful.
    --With the PlwD, you may have to respond in some way so that they feel heard, but then you can move the conversation on into something more positive.
    --With uneducated family members who see Showtime** as the PlwD normal behavior, you will have to decide if they will accept or understand further education about LBD. Printed handouts from the LBDA or a medical source may work better than your own explanations.
  • If you reply, stay positive, ask questions as needed and say "Thanks." Saying "Thanks" does not mean that you agree with the person, only that you appreciate their interest.
    --With a PlwD who is blaming you because of a delusion, you must not deny the accusation. Instead, become an improv actor and say you are sorry. (See blogs on dealing with delusions)
  • Review. Make a conscious choice to accept the critique as constructive if you can find anything of value in it. Then plan how you will make any needed changes. Otherwise, consider it destructive and therefore, not worth your time.
  • Let it go. Once you know of the issue (if there really is one), and have decided how to deal with it, the criticism's job is done.
Next week: On to happier topics, like how to have enjoy being positive and have fun with it.

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

We love and welcome comments but we will not publish any that advertise a product or a commercial website. This is especially true for testimonials about miraculous Parkinson's cures and marijuana.

** Showtime: When a PlwD is experiencing a period of more than normal awareness. Often occurs with visiting family members or during doctor visits.

* Acronyms:
AD: Alzheimer's disease
BPSD: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
DLB: Dementia with Lewy bodies, where cognitive/behavioral issues occur first
LBD: Lewy body dementia, an umbrella term for both DLB and PDD
LBDA: Lewy Body Dementia Association. LBDA.org
MCI: Mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
PD: Parkinson's disease
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia, where mobility issues occur first
PlwD: person/people living with dementia
PlwPD, LBD, PDD, AD, etc.: person/people living with PD, LBD, etc.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Friday, June 15, 2018

Constructive Caring, #4: Changing Habits

OK, you've lowered your stress level, belong to a great support group, and are aware of some negative thinking habits that you want to change. Now what? Will those negative thoughts just disappear? Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Negative thinking is a habit that takes commitment, time and effort to change. However, people do it all the time and you can too!

To change a habit, you need to notice a specific behavior and make a conscious, personal commitment to change it to a viable alternative. Write this down and tell someone else. Then do it. Reward yourself when you succeed and be gentle with yourself when you forget, and keep trying until the change becomes a habit. (Reference)

Now let's break this down:
  • Notice: You have to be aware of what isn't working before you can change it to anything else.
  • Conscious: Negative thinking is often automatic, like a PlwD's.* But because you can think abstractly, you can make purposeful choices that put you on the road to change.
  • Personal: This is about you, not the PlwD or anyone else. Changing for someone else is like trying to make a bed with a ten-foot pole. It can be done, but not very easily, not very well and the effort seldom lasts long enough to get the job completely done. 
    "I will notice when I use all or nothing thoughts and stop using them."
  • Specific: The more specific your commitment is, the more effective it will be. Chose one specific type of negative thinking and focus on changing it to something more constructive.
    "I will notice when I use extreme, all or nothing, words like "always," "never" in my thoughts and stop using these words."
  • Viable alternative: If you try to stop a behavior or a way of thinking without providing a replacement behavior, you leave a vacuum. Your brain will backfire and go into its default mode of worry. The replacement also has to be something that will work for you. If it isn't, your brain will balk again and the change won't happen.
    "I will notice when I use extreme words in like "always," "never" and change them to more accurate words like "sometimes," "this time."
  • Write it down. Once your commitment statement is complete, reinforce it by writing it. Now the information gets to travel to your brain via another pathway. It is also something you can look at every day and use as a reminder.
  • Tell someone else: You are more likely to stay on track if someone else knows about your commitment. Utilize your positive friends as role models and sounding boards. They can also confront any exaggeration of "mistakes" into "failures."
  • Do it. Making a change requires overcoming the fear that you won't do it right, or that you might even fail and practicing the change over and over.
  • Reward yourself. When you catch yourself exaggerating, stop and say something more accurate, give yourself a verbal pat on the back, a compliment--and mean it. "Hey, I did it. I'm getting more specific by the minute!" Your brain views sincere compliments as positively as it does a material gift.
  • Be gentle. When you forget and exaggerate--and you will!--be as compassionate with yourself as you would be with a friend. Use the experience as a learning tool. Feel the guilt long enough to own the mistake. Then worry about it long enough to consider how to keep from doing it again. With that, the value of guilt and worry is over. Let them go.
  • Keep on keeping on. Notice, commit, practice, reward, share, and do it again and again. Don't expect to change overnight. Researchers now say that it can take 2-6 months to change a habit. So be patient, keep working, keep rewarding yourself and keep talking about your successes.
Eventually, you will find that you are automatically using more accurate words instead of extreme words. You aren't making conscious choices anymore, it just comes naturally. It's a habit! With that done, you can start over and change another habit.

With each negative thinking habit you change to something more constructive, you will also experience some longer lasting rewards. Every so often, stop and take inventory. Are you happier? Do you feel better? Is your health better? What about your loved one? Is the same true for them? Are there fewer negative behaviors? Are they more content? And finally, own the constructive changes you've made and give yourself lots of credit.

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

We love and welcome comments but we will not publish any that advertise a product or a commercial website. This is especially true for testimonials about miraculous Parkinson's cures and marijuana.

* Acronyms:
AD: Alzheimer's disease
BPSD: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
DLB: Dementia with Lewy bodies, where cognitive/behavioral issues occur first
LBD: Lewy body dementia, an umbrella term for both DLB and PDD
MCI: Mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
PD: Parkinson's disease
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia, where mobility issues occur first
PlwD: person/people living with dementia
PlwPD, LBD, PDD, AD, etc.: person/people living with PD, LBD, etc.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia