A month ago, the blog was about the PlwD* who wanted to go home and suggested that the care partner would get further if they first saw the issue from the PlwD's point of view: That "home" equaled comfort and discomfort equaled "not home." If you haven't read that already, I'd suggest that you do it now. Just click here.
When you try to convince your loved one that they are indeed home, this feels to them like they are being lied to which generates more negative feelings, over and above the ones of discomfort that initated the feeling of not being home in the first place. That is a very short synopsis of that blog, but if you haven't read it, you would do well to do so before you read further here.
The first step is to validate the PlwD's feelings:
- Unless you validate PlwD's negative feelings, you will not be able to redirect them to something more positive.
- The PlwD have a short attention span. Once the negative feelings are deflected, they can be redirected.
And so the bottom line is:
- Speak to the underlying feelings instead of arguing, explaining or reasoning.
- The PlwD lives in a black and white, either/or world. Either they are angry or they aren't. Either they are happy or they aren't. Therefore, once the angry feelings are validated, the PlwD is open to distraction almost immediately.
If the PlwD is mobile enough for causal car trips, agree to take them home, but stop "on the way" for a treat. As above, when the PlwD feels heard, their negative feelings decrease enough to be replaced by the positive ones from the ride and the treat and the changed environment. Since they can't think of more than one thing at a time, they "forget" their concern about their home. By the time they return, they will usually "see" it as their home, especially if you make sure there are plenty of positive feelings accompanying the return...smiles, hugs, and such--remember "comfort" means "home."
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LBD: Lewy body dementia
PD: Parkinson's disease
PlwD, LBD, DLB, MCI, PD, PDD, etc: person/people living with dementia
(Substitute your loved ones name here!)
DLB: dementia with Lewy bodies
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia
MCI: mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
BPSD: behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
For 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.