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Misconceptions about Dementia: #4

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

This is the fourth and final installment in this series. Thank you for following along for the past month!

I've learned that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about dementia, and I’d like to take some time over the next several weeks to address a few of the big ones. I’ve heard all of these statements at one time or another, so I feel drawn to share my perspective. Stay tuned for my take on some of the most common myths out there.

One of the things I learned early on with my mom was that I often had to step into her world. That means that when she was confused about something or when she told a story that didn’t make sense, I tried to go along with it unless it was directly harmful to her or to someone close to her. If she thought she needed to go to the store to pick up groceries to make dinner, I’d tell her we’d go a little later in the day. If she talked about her parents or friends who were no longer around, we’d talk as if they still were. In all honesty, it took time and practice for me to become comfortable with stepping into her world but we always had better interactions when I tried.

Another concern that sometimes comes up is the issue of our loved ones repeating things. In the early stages, those with dementia can be acutely aware of this behavior and they may be embarrassed or frustrated by it. They likely know that they’ve forgotten yet again that they asked you a question or told a story. Being reminded that they’re repeating themselves just adds to those negative feelings. Even as a loved one becomes less aware of this behavior, it shouldn’t change your responses to them. If a repeated story, saying, or memory is bringing joy to their life, it probably doesn’t need to be corrected.

In closing, try and remember that sometimes your time together is more about helping your loved one feel safe and comforted than it is about making sure they’re getting everything right. And wherever you’re at on your journey with a loved one’s dementia diagnosis, allow yourself some grace as you navigate your new “normal”. Your loved one doesn’t need you to stress over the details, they just need you to be there.

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