The Fourth of July may seem like the perfect time for explosiveness, but not if the topic is your reaction to dementia behaviors.
Behaviors are common when caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other forms of dementia. Care partner’s experience challenges getting their loved one to eat, take medications, toilet, bathe and/or dress, to name a few. Perhaps they’ve asked you the same question 27 times…in the past 15 minutes. Have you considered that, at times, these behaviors may be the only way that person with a diagnosis of dementia can communicate their wants or needs?
Your patience may be wearing thin. Of course. How can one person do it all, even on occasions when you may have received a full night’s sleep?! When it comes to dementia and behaviors, it is important to distinguish between what you can change and what is out of your control.
Emotional responses can get the best of even the best of us. The stress of caregiving can lead to irritation, anger, exhaustion and overwhelming feelings. How can we control our frustration when the encounters seem endless? Remember the word SPARKLE and take charge of staying calm when behaviors occur.
S – Stay focused on the person, not the situation
P – Physically calm down, practice deep breathing or other stress reducing activities
A – Adapt your response; the way you choose to react is what you can control
R – Remember to stay positive
K – Keep it simple
L – Learn and practice effective communication
E – Exercise your need to ask for help. Don’t do it alone if you don’t have to
Go ahead and SPARKLE and remember, caring for someone with dementia makes you a super hero. However, it’s vital to recognize that even super heroes have sidekicks and helpers! Go ahead, stand up, legs shoulder length apart, put your hands on your hips, tilt your head to one side and look up to the heavens and shout out loud, “I am a Care Giver. I am a Super Hero!” Say it like you mean it. Say it until you believe it.
This Independence Day, enjoy gathering with family and friends while you celebrate the coming together of the thirteen American colonies as a new nation, united. Let the beautiful firecrackers lighting up the night sky be the only explosion in your life this summer season. Keep calm and sparkle on.