Hey Dementia Community: Stop Telling Me Your Challenges Aren’t a Big Deal!

If it wasn’t a big deal, why was she telling me about it? She said that having to cancel lunch with a friend because her husband (who was living with Alzheimer’s) was having awful anxiety was no big deal. She said that her friend could stop by later. That she wasn’t that thrilled with the […]

Love and Renovations in Dementialand (aka This One is For the Dementia Spouses)

A guy once told me he never knew how much his wife accomplished in a day until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was unable to do what she had done for the previous thirty years. He told me that picking up the slack was a big challenge for him. 

“Dementia doubled my chores,” one woman told me.

Stop. Take a second right now. Pat yourself on the back for the added responsibilities that you’ve mastered.

Dementia and the Gift

I get a lot of gifts from people with dementia. And I’m not talking about abstract and intangible gifts. I’m talking about actual stuff.

Sometimes they are gifts “stolen” from another resident at a memory care community. Sometimes they are pulled directly from a dirty clothes hamper. Sometimes they are things that aren’t really useful to me–like a used lipstick.

I have been given family heirlooms only to return them to family members at a later date. People have insisted I accept horse figurines, gently used toothbrushes, expensive and inexpensive jewelry, cat beds, and rocks. People color me pictures. Once someone gave me a photo of their grandbaby so I “wouldn’t forget what babies look like since no one has them nowadays.”

Why You Shouldn’t Start Statements with “At Least” in Dementialand (And Elsewhere)

It’s true that things can always be worse, but attempting to point out how they could be worse to a person in the midst of crisis is not helpful.

The next time you try to find the right words, make sure those words don’t start with “At least.”

Don’t focus on putting a silver lining on dementia. Maybe they’ll somehow find that silver lining  in the midst of the tsunami, but it’s not for you to put it there.

To support people, you gotta meet them where they are in the moment. And trying to throw a little glitter into the conversation sometimes puts you on a different planet than the one they are currently inhabiting.

Improv and Dementialand (aka There Are No Scripts in Dementialand)

I have a friend named Drew Dotson. She lives in Atlanta and performs at an improv  comedy theater. Not only does she perform improv (and does so amazingly well), she teaches improv. If you’re not familiar with improv, think of Whose Line is it Anyway with a different and, if ask me, less impressive Drew, Drew Carey. […]