Can caregiving be less frustrating, less stressful? Working with the skills our loved one retains we could achieve that goal. Judy Cornish, author of Dementia With Dignity talks to us about how to preserve skills in our loved ones.
For example, expecting our person use rational thought long after it’s gone is common. As a result, we cause stress and frustration. To clarify this, think how often you’ve explained what you need done only to have to explain it again. It’s absolutely frustrating! Instead, by focusing on intuitive thought processes we can create a situation to get what we need accomplished.
For example, a common struggle for caregivers is showering. Think about how many steps are involved in the process. How many times is the action paused while waiting for something to happen? Even short pauses in activity allow their mind to lose focus. As a result, we get resistance to showering.
On the other hand, focusing on their intuitive thought we setup a situation for them to “just do” what we want. For example, a support group member found a no fuss way to get her Mom to shower. Her first step was to get everything ready and turn the water on. Meanwhile, as the water warmed up, she’d help her Mom to the bathroom for toileting. As a result hearing the running shower, Mom would naturally get in as she did prior to her Alzheimer’s.
Automatic Thinking Scripts
When we find ourselves doing a task without consciously thinking about it we are using intuitive thought. Some people call this muscle memory. Others call it an automatic thinking script. I’ve brewed tea so often in my kitchen I don’t need to think about the steps involved. Repetition brings competency. As long as there are no alterations in this process, we function just fine.
It is not good for those of us with healthy brains to be on auto-pilot except when doing mundane things. However, it’s critically valuable to people experiencing dementia because they cannot rely on memory to know where to look for coffee filters or socks. They don’t have rational thought to tell them that underwear goes on before pants once memory fails.
Intuitive versus rational thinking is the conversation in this episode. You will learn a lot and certainly be interested in Judy’s books. You can find them on Amazon or at her website where you can also check out her blog.
If you need a refresher on what living with dementia is like make sure to check out these past episodes.