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Being Noticed
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I share ideas for caring for a person with dementia with someone in Wisconsin. He seems to get assignments with very challenging people. He is currently caring for a gentleman with behaviors that turn people away; belching, being provocative, singing the same song over and over, and offering self-deprecatory statements. Recently when asked why he did one particularly annoying thing, belching, he answered, "How else am I going to be noticed?".
I wonder how many noxious behaviors of those with dementia are ways of being seen, accounted for? I suggested the caregiver ask him "Do you know how you'd like to be noticed?" and see if he can talk about it. He is still able to have a conversation and express himself when one on one.
Maybe if we as caregivers explored ways of making a person feel loved, noticed, connected to us, many of the behaviors we find challenging would dissipate. Shadowing (following the caregiver around) is one such behavior that annoys caregivers. "Why can't he find something to do:? Why hang on me all day?" This behavior is from his inability to feel safe and/or start something enjoyable to do. So he follows after the caregiver, with whom he does feel safe, perhaps asking, "What are we going to do now?" "Where are we going today?" What would make him feel content? Explore; try different activities that will occupy (not the TV!). Read to him, ask for her help in the kitchen, watch a travel film together, reminisce about happier times through albums and scrapbooks or films. Note: do not quiz at these times; simply say "I remember this time with you; we loved the mountain view."
Caregiving is indeed exhausting as the onus of responsibility to structure the day is on you. Having a plan for the day helps.
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"I learned not to treat my father like a child; to continue to talk with him as an adult."

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