I have been blessed with friends that have gone through what I am presently experiencing: dealing with their parents who suffered with dementia. In 100% or the our conversations, they have all said to me at one time or another ‘don’t take what she says to you personally’. It has proved to be priceless advice. But here’s the problem.
After recently undergoing hip replacement surgery, my mother is presently in a rehab facility. When I go to visit her, I never know what behavior to expect. Will it be the personality of the mother I am used to seeing, or will it be the dementia type personality, full of paranoia, anger and distrust? The last time I visited with her, it was the latter.
Here’s the problem I experience when it is the latter. First, it takes a while before I realize which personality I’m experiencing. By the time I figure that out, I feel my inner thermometer starting to rise, and when that happens, I react. That means I have allowed myself to be pulled into the paranoia, and the advice I received about not taking it personally is completely forgotten.
If I had remembered it I would not be so drawn in. There have been times when I remained not drawn into her anger, and for me that is good. For my mother, she takes it as my talking to her in a condescending manner, and I admit that makes me feel like I just can’t win, even when it is in the attempt to have a decent conversation with her.
So here is the thought for caregivers everywhere: a) Don’t be drawn in to your loved one’s negative behavior. b) Be proactive, not reactive. Proactive action keeps you sane; reactive tendencies keep you in a negative plight.
This will take time to develop, as I am learning there is an art to it, but I am encouraged I can master it while learning not to take my mother’s behavior of negative untrue statements to heart, and not take it personally. It is part of the disease, not part of the true essence of her.