You might wonder…who would argue with Reverend G? But for caregivers who deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, arguments sometimes happen. I’ve seen this in my own family.
With her paranoia, Mom often makes up the most elaborate stories. “Someone came into my house and stole my checkbook. Then she took it to the bank, forged my signature and stole all my money.”
This story was of course, ludicrous, but it did not help to say, “No, Mom. That didn’t happen.” She was convinced the story was real and so we argued back and forth about the phantom forger, “Yes, she did,” and “No, she didn’t.”
I’ve learned that instead of arguing, I should ask questions. “Now, Mom, how do you think this person broke into the house? No doorknobs have been broken. No windows are shattered. And how did this person possibly forge your signature when hers is so drastically different?”
By asking questions, Mom is then forced to consider answers rather than arguments. Mom no longer has the ability to reason, so after a few questions she forgets all about the story – until she brings it up again. Then we start all over with more questions.
It takes a bit of practice and perseverance to ask questions instead of arguing. But arguments do nothing to solve the problem and only bring more frustration to both parties. Instead, open-ended questions help everyone settle down and realize that this particular story is not true.
And who of us wants to debate when there’s so little time to just love? It’s so much better to acknowledge that our loved ones have a legitimate concern, treat them with respect and just ask questions.
The Golden Rule of Alzheimer’s is: Treat your loved ones the way you want to be treated in fifty years.