Rock and a hard place.

I scan the web often for caregiver tips that might help me help my husband…or help me help myself. These five points, about talking with an Alzheimer’s patient, are so important:

  1. Diminish distractions, banish background noises.
  2. Converse one-on-one because more people equals more confusion.
  3. Keep things simple, stick to short specific statements.
  4. Avoid arguments because no one will win.
  5. Just keep talking even if they can no longer respond.

Number four is my bugaboo. I always try to prove my point, establish that I’m right, or explain when no amount of explaining will make any difference. Peter and I both are argumentative, always have been. Even now when everything in our lives has turned upside down, that need be right still rises to the top like pasta on the boil.

I’ve long since learned that numbers one through three are the best ways to interact with him,  but I figured that out while trying to understand more about his place on the autism spectrum (ASD). It has always been difficult for me to have any meaningful conversation with Peter, so to keep him focused, I try to pick the right time to have a conversation (1), and I know from experience that he zones out if several people are talking (2), plus I attempt to keep to one idea at a time (3). Peter has never been one to chat, so I’m used to talking without response (5).

It has always been way more difficult for me to deal with his ASD than with his dementia, even though he can’t help either condition. I battle with myself daily. He can’t help it, he-can’t-help-it, he-can’t-help-it.

There has been some research that has shown that people with ASD might be more predisposed to some form of dementia than the general population. I’ve wondered about that for years. If science proves there is a link, at least I could argue that I was right.

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Header: Lake Louise, BC.  Peter tries to lift a rock to bring home for Carolynn’s collection. (8/31/10)

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

14 thoughts on “Rock and a hard place.

  1. You aren’t alone in having trouble with number 4. I see this all the time when I hear families interacting with their loved one who has some form of dementia. There isn’t any future in arguing or reminding in hopes of winning the argument. There is no winning…it is a losing proposition.
    The problem I had to work through in talking with my Mother who has dementia relates to her asking where my Dad is, or her Mother, or her Brother. She just doesn’t remember that they have died and so when I reminded her of that, she would get so upset and ask me why no one had ever told her. Finally my brother suggested that when she asks where Dad is I should simply say, “I don’t know Mom.” That has solved the problem. I have asked if she has seen him lately and she always says, “Oh yes!” And I suspect she has in her dreams, in her thoughts, in her own way.

  2. And even though you know you shouldn’t, you are allowed to keep arguing with him. He’s your husband. The rest of us have to be better about it.

  3. When I was young and heard my grandparents “bickering” (as my mother described it, no doubt a Butler-ism) I said to myself that I’d never do that with my husband when I got old! Well, guess what–our daughters tell us Bill and I do that very thing, often! So maybe all of us are not really Arguing, just Bickering — cuz we’re “old!” 🙂 cj

  4. Hi, I am a friend of Carolynn’s. I was talking to her the other day, telling her how I am reading your articles and look forward to the next.They are great. Keep up the good work. I know this must not be easy but your reading is treasured my me. Thank you!!!

  5. Actually he probably enjoys the little debates….. since you two have always had them….. don’t get down on yourself!

  6. I met Carolynn on Northern Italy trip and also wait for each blog of yours. You are helping so many in so many ways…thanks so much!!!

  7. HEY, wait a minute…I didn’t get that rock!!! Great post, keep them coming…you’ve learned so much and are teaching others how to cope by your musings. Good job Mama, good job!!

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