(formerly the 10 Commandments of Dementia Care)
I am currently writing a book, “Make Dementia Your B*tch.” This book contains many of the blogs but have been updated and organized into a very reader-friendly text. It will be available by mid-November in print, e-book, kindle, and other formats. I am so super excited!!! I will post pre-order information in another month.
As I reviewed the old “10 Commandment” blog, I realized that caregivers have enough to deal with. Nobody needs more rules. I also realized that this 10 sentences reflected my personal care philosophy–which has been informed by my own research, education, and personal experiences as a caregiver. I now prefer to think of these statements as a framework or model for approaches to dementia caregiving that respects the personhood of the PLwD. Plus, many caregivers do not follow a Judea-Christian spiritual path (including me) and I designed this blog to be inclusive.
I. I am still me…I may forget parts of my life but I will never forget that I am an adult deserving dignity. Neither should you. My memories may go but my personality stays.
II. Treat me like an adult. My behavior may be child-like, but NEVER treat me like a child. No baby talk!
III. Come into my world, I can’t function in yours. This means that I can’t remember what happened 5 minutes ago but I can remember something from 50 years ago. Please don’t argue with me, I don’t understand why you are angry and I feel terrible for hours afterward. Enter my reality; when I ask about mom and dad, don’t tell me they died. Ask me what I love most about them.
IV. Actions are better than words. No big explanations, a gentle touch or hug, and a warm smile goes a long way.
V. Give me a daily, consistent schedule. Consistent schedules tap the memories that I have and strengthen the parts of the brain that are still working. I feel better with schedules, even if I cannot remember them.
VI. Give me nature. I need fresh air and sunshine. I want to feel the breeze on my face. I want to hear thunder and see lightning. Show me the moon and starlight. Please make sure I get out every day, even if it is on a porch or patio, or near a big bay window, where I can watch the birds. Sunrises and sunsets make me happy, too.
VII. Give me pleasurable activities. I may forget that you took me out to lunch, or we went fishing, but the pleasurable feelings and emotions that came from that experience will last for hours. Don’t use that excuse, “she won’t remember.” You will.
VIII. Give me social interaction on my terms. I can’t handle large gatherings but I can visit with a couple of people, especially if they are following Statement #3. Again, I may forget that the grandkids came to visit, but the pleasurable feelings and emotions from that visit will persist hours after the visit. Your kids are watching how you treat me, and will follow your example when you become forgetful.
IX. Keep me safe. That means giving me the freedom to move about my home as much as possible without falling or getting hurt. You may need to be creative, like hanging pictures of a bookshelf over a door to keep me from leaving.
X. Keep me healthy. Help me to eat good foods to stay as healthy as possible, and help me to avoid infections.