Tag Archive | respect

“You Oughta Know: Acknowledging, Recognizing, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease” – Chapter 12 Excerpt

You Oughta Know: Recognizing, Acknowledging, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer's DiseaseIn this thirteenth installment of chapter excerpts from the book You Oughta Know: Acknowledging, Recognizing, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, we look at the twelfth step in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

This post includes an excerpt from chapter 12, which gives comprehensive information on how to acknowledge, recognize, and respond to the twelfth step in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease: maintaining the dignity and as much independence as is safe for our loved ones as they become more dependent on us.

This is so critical – and, unfortunately, often overlooked or forgotten – that it must be recognized as a conscious step that we as caregivers must take and must always remember as we go through this journey with our loved ones.

This series begins with the forward to the book and an explanation of why I wrote this book and why you should read it.

The series continues with the inclusion of excerpts from Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, and, with this post, Chapter 12.

The steps in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease are presented sequentially in the order in which they actually appear in the course of these neurological diseases.

There are no other books that literally walk through each step in sequential order as they emerge in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Additionally, there is no other book that discusses:

  1. The process we as caregivers acknowledge each new step – there is an acceptance period that we have to go through
  2. The process we use to guide ourselves and our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease through the recognition phase of each step
  3. The concrete, loving, and practical information on how we should respond and how we can help guide our loved ones’ responses

These are the things that make You Oughta Know: Acknowledging, Recognizing, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease unique and stand alone in the plethora of books about dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

going gentle into that good night divider

Excerpt “Chapter 12: ‘Help Me Live With Dignity ‘Til the End’”

“As our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease progress through their journeys, they reach this step where their dignity and their independence could be compromised. It is our job to ensure that we preserve their dignity to the end and ensure as much independence as is safe to the end.

Dignity is something that all human beings should have until they take their last breath. This includes respect and honor toward them, no matter what circumstances they may find themselves in. It is no different for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

In addition to dignity, it is also important for us to ensure that our loved ones have as much independence – guaranteeing safety at all times – over their own bodies and their own care as they are able to handle.

It will take them longer and everything may not be perfect, but as long as our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease can participate in their care, their lives, and our lives safely, the more happy and satisfied they will be and the more dignity and honor we will be showing them.

What does this look like in practice?

  1. Incontinence and toileting

    When our loved ones reach this step, we may begin to have to help them with toileting. Generally, urinary incontinence is the first toileting issue we encounter. This may be due more to age and medication than the actual loss of urinary continence, so our loved ones will likely know they need to urinate, but just not be able to make it in time.

    We want the transition to adult incontinence clothing to be as easy and stigma-free for them as possible, so we should treat the clothing, accidents, and any other issues we encounter with no fuss and calmly and normally.”

Verbal Abuse is Not Loving Caregiving for Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

This article from Science Daily about verbal abuse and its negative influence on the quality of life among the elderly really struck a nerve in me. This is one of my soapbox issues about the care, the honor, the respect – and the increasingly appalling lack of it – we as a society give to the elderly among us.

The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is the one of the most pervasive lies that’s been perpetrated since it was first said in an old English nursery rhyme. The reality is that physical pain heals to one degree or another, but the pain of verbal abuse never heals. Words, once spoken, remain with us until we draw our last breaths.

Just because our loved ones may be experiencing dementias, Alzheimer’s Disease, or other age-related illnesses that impair them neurologically and/or physically does not mean they are oblivious or immune to the tone, the quality, and the veracity of our words.

That is why I wrote “Is It Ever Okay To Be Dishonest With Our Loved Ones Suffering With Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease?” condemning ever being dishonest with our loved ones, a practice often advised when dealing with our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

I caught a lot of flak for that post and got a lot of excuses and justifications (just an FYI: if you have to make excuses and justify behavior, then it’s a good sign that it’s wrong and you know it’s wrong and you are consciously choosing to do what is wrong anyway) as to why being dishonest was okay.

going gentle into that good night verbal abuse elderly unacceptable behaviorIt did not and does not change my position and the reality that being dishonest is not okay ever. Dishonesty is a moral failing at its core (we should strive never to be dishonest with anyone about anything), but it is an equally unacceptable form of verbal abuse for our loved ones suffering with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dishonesty is just as much verbal abuse as yelling, demeaning, cursing, and talking about our loved ones as if they weren’t there. Even if they don’t understand the full meaning (and really, who knows how much intuition and understanding is there, but inaccessible in terms of articulation?), our loved ones still react to and fear verbal abuse. Just like each of us does.

Be kind. Be gentle. Put yourself in their shoes and ask “how would I want to be treated if this was me?” Be honest, but do it with love and tenderness. Let your tone always be one that comforts them. It takes effort. It takes self-control.

Sometimes it takes deep breaths and counting to whatever number you have to until you’re ready. That’s on each of us. Because we know better and can do better, while our loved ones don’t and can’t, especially with neurological deterioration.

I’ve been in enough nursing homes and assisted living facilities to see a lot of verbal abuse up close and personally.

It triggers a protective nerve in me that makes me want to go up to those who are doing it and say “You want to pick on someone? Bring it on. But don’t you EVER speak to any of these people, who could be your father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother like this!”

If I could save everyone who has ever experienced this at the hands of a caregiver, I would.

I can’t. But I urge all of us make sure we’re not guilty.