Who’s The Captain? Why Reason & Logic Fail With Little Kids…And Dementia Patients – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C, CSP

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“I’m the Captain,” declared my 3-year old nephew Enzo as soon as he boarded our boat on a warm autumn day last fall.  Wearing the captain’s hat his mother had purchased for him on Amazon.com, he purposefully strode to the captain’s seat.  When he noticed our family’s amusement at his audacity, he looked directly at us and repeated, “I’m the Captain.  I am.” 

Obviously when my husband was ready to launch the boat we needed Enzo to move.  But did we sit him down and logically explain to him that he was not the Captain?  No.  We told Enzo that it was Uncle Sean’s turn to drive the boat and that he could have a turn later.  Enzo considered the statement, resisted briefly and then reluctantly moved to sit with his parents and cousins.

Could we have attempted to reason with Enzo?  Sure.  Would it have done any good?  Probably not.  I can only imagine how explaining to a 3-year old that he did not have the credentials to launch a 34-foot cruiser.  It probably would have gone over as well as trying to reason with someone who has advanced dementia.

People who suffer with advanced dementia are adults.  They are grown-ups who have lived full lives and are most certainly not children.  But as Alzheimer’s disease (or any other dementia) progresses, their ability to reason is comparable to a small child’s.

Nobody tried to reason with Enzo because we understood that he didn’t have the capacity to understand he lacked the skills to captain a boat.  But why is it that the same people who wouldn’t attempt to reason with a child try to do so with someone with dementia?

Countless times I have witnessed well-meaning, intelligent people try to “remind” their loved one with dementia that she is no longer allowed to drive.  Or that he has already eaten dinner.  Or that it is winter when their loved one is convinced that it’s summer.  And I can see why.  Dementia is tricky. 

There might be a moment in the day that Mom will remember that she is not supposed to drive.  But as the disease progresses, no amount of arguing, rationalizing, reasoning or logic will convince Mom that her doctor told her to stop driving.

Tell Mom you feel like driving today rather than reminding her that she is unsafe behind the wheel.   Just as it wouldn’t have been productive to tell Enzo he’s not qualified to be a boat captain, it wouldn’t be productive to tell Mom the whole family is afraid of her driving.

Treat your older loved one who has dementia with dignity because he’s an adult.  But remember that his capacity to understand logic and reason is often child-like.   

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

What do you do about sex…and dementia? By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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How should senior living communities handle residents who have dementia who are “sexually aggressive?”  What do spouses and partners do about their sexual needs if their loved one has dementia?  Can somebody with Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive impairment say “yes” to sex?  Check out Jen’s recent interview on Valda Ford’s Sex Is Not For Sissies show where we explore these complex questions:

http://www.spreaker.com/user/9496980/sept-11-jennifer-fitzpatrick

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

A Colleague Or Loved One Has Dementia: Where Do You Find Help? By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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While most people have heard of the Alzheimer’s Association, did you know that there are other non-profits that focus on supporting patients and families struggling with an irreversible dementia diagnosis.  Whether you are an Employee Assistance Professional or just care about someone who is showing signs of cognitive problems, here is a handy list of resources you can refer to for help:

www.alz.org offers dementia caregiver resources such as a wealth of information about Alzheimer’s disease, vascular Dementia and other irreversible dementias.  The Alzheimer’s Association offers dementia caregiver resources to professionals, patients and family caregivers, including a 24-hour helpline (800) 272-3900 that can be accessed throughout the United States.  Both caregivers of persons with dementia as well as professionals find this helpline invaluable. The Alzheimer’s Association’s national office is located in Chicago.

www.lbda.org  offers dementia caregiver resources such as educational conferences, webinars and support groups for those dealing with a diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia.  The Lewy Body Dementia Association’s home office is based in Georgia.

www.theaftd.org Based in the Philadelphia area, The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration offers dementia caregiver resources and information about Frontotemporal Dementia, Pick’s Disease and other Frontotemporal Degenerative conditions.  Their dementia caregiver resources include educational conferences and support groups.

www.cjdfoundation.org offers dementia caregiver resources such as educational conferences and family support to patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease  (CJD) and their families.  The Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation’s home office is located in Ohio.

www.hdsa.org  Based out of New York, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America offers dementia caregiver resources such as support and education to patients and families impacted by Huntington’s Disease.

If you want simple, practical strategies on how to deal with the stress of caring for or supporting someone who has dementia, check out Jennifer FitzPatrick’s new book, Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One at www.cruisingthroughcaregiving.com.

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Aggressive Behavior In Dementia: How To Prevent, How To Manage

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Most people caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia will encounter “aggressive” behavior from the patient at some point. This aggressive behavior can be verbal, physical or even sexual. These aggressive behaviors often occur because of hallucinations and delusions that accompany an irreversible dementia diagnosis. But there are lots of simple ways we can de-escalate such behaviors. Even better, there are many ways to prevent aggressive behavior in dementia care. Check out Jen’s presentation on preventing, de-escalating and managing aggressive behavior in dementia care:

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Whose Fault Is Violence In Dementia?

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How To Decrease Their Aggression And Your Stress Level

A big stressor while caring for someone who has dementia is when that person becomes verbally or physically aggressive. Both professional and family caregivers find this unexpected, scary and extremely stressful. But frequently when a person with dementia becomes violent it is actually our fault. While it may feel uncomfortable to cast blame on a well-intentioned professional or family member, it is likely what we are doing that can cause an aggressive or even violent response from a person with dementia.

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