What About Me? Getting Your Needs Met When Someone You Care About Has Dementia

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“You’ve got to join their world.” That’s the advice that professionals like me tell caregivers about their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Persons with dementia are continuously losing the ability to communicate and remember. Their behavior is often odd or even embarrassing. Their personality changes.

Best practices for joining “their world”– Don’t correct them. Don’t argue. Go with the flow.

And you finally have adapted. You now get it. You’ve stopped arguing with your Dad when he thinks it’s snowing on a beautiful Autumn day. You no longer expect your husband to remember to lock the door. You accept that your best friend of 40 years now thinks you are her mother.

But by graciously adapting to the world of a person with dementia, you are also likely missing aspects of the old relationship you had with that person.

What if your Mom was your primary confidante? What if your husband was the person who always made you feel safe? What if you and your best friend used to laugh for hours over inside jokes?

As important as it is to join the world of a person who has dementia, it’s also critical to acknowledge the losses. While nobody can or should replace your friend or family member, think about how you can get some of those neglected needs met. Who can you confide in now? Who will help you feel safe? Who can you laugh with?

For more tips on getting your needs met when you are caring for someone with dementia, check out my new book, Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One. To download a free chapter check out www.cruisingthroughcaregiving.com.

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