It’s Wrong to Say It’s Wrong

September 24, 2016 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Your sweater doesn’t match!   Your socks are two different colors! The soup cans don’t go in the fridge! Don’t do that!

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-5-37-53-amIf you have a loved one with dementia, you may have said something similar. It’s hard not to.   We spend most of our lives trying to be right.   Whether we’re a CPA, a scientist, or a landscaper, we’re paid to do things right.

This all goes out the window when mom or dad has dementia. Their ability to do things right diminish daily.   Does it matter?

If it doesn’t hurt anyone, who cares? Rather than correcting, just agree. If mom says you were born in Ohio when you’re really from Florida, just go along with it. If dad wants to wear both of his favorite sweaters at the same time, just say, “You look handsome!”

Often, when we correct, we are trying to be helpful. Especially as parents, we spend years teaching our kids how to do things right. A small child will learn because her brain is growing, but if mom’s brain is in decline, she can’t learn.

When we correct, we send a message… not just with words, but with tone and facial signals, that the person has done something wrong.   These are cues that the person with dementia understands very clearly. While the ability to process facts declines, feelings remain intact.

Stop saying it’s wrong. Find something positive to say. Mom and dad have stopped growing. That doesn’t mean we have to.

 

 

 

 

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