Welcome back, Careblazer.
Today I want to address a topic that came up quite a few times during my recent Live Q & A’s. As you may know, a few weeks ago, I hosted several live Q & A sessions where many of you showed up and asked me your questions. Some of the questions I received had to do with the theme of the person with dementia doing something that wasn’t in their best interest, but the Careblazer just didn’t have the fight in them to do anything about it. Two specific examples that come to mind were from Careblazers stating their loved one drinks beer and another one who says their loved one smokes.
I want to talk specifically about why it’s okay to choose your battles. Why it’s okay to let some things go. And how this doesn’t take away from the amazing care you are giving to your loved one. I hope this video will help give you a framework for how you can decide whether or not something is worth your effort or whether it’s okay to preserve your energy for other things.
At the end, I’ll share the step by step process you can take to apply this to your own life.
If you would rather watch my video on this topic, click here.
So 2 of the questions I received during the recent live Q & A’s went something like this:
“My husband, who has been diagnosed with dementia, is a non admitted alcoholic minimum 3 beers per day. I am scared that if I insist on stopping the beer, I might be opening up something I can't handle, but I know he shouldn't be drinking while on antidepressants. Suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.”
“My problem is my husband who is living with Alzheimer’s is a smoker for all his life. I am concerned he will burn our house or himself. I do limit his cigarettes and make sure none are available for him during the night, but I don’t know what else to do. I buy the cigarettes because he gets very angry if he doesn’t have them. I know that’s stupid of me, but I am not up to the challenge for the arguments if he is without cigarettes. Any helpful suggestions will be wonderful.”
On the surface, many people might think, well yeah, smoking and drinking are bad. You’ve got to get them to stop. But both of these caregivers are saying they aren’t up for the challenge, they can’t handle it right now. Maybe at some point in the future, that will change, but right now, it’s too much.
So first, I want every Careblazer to be able to check-in with themselves. Know yourself. Trust yourself. Is this something you can take on right now. If not, and it’s not an imminent immediate safety issue, then perhaps just give yourself permission to table that issue for now.
Some of you might think, well smoking and not putting out cigarettes is a safety concern. Shouldn’t that be addressed right away? Yes and no. There is a safety risk that needs to be addressed, but there are ways to address that without having to tackle the battle of getting your LOWD to stop smoking. For example, some of the things I told his Careblazer were to keep the cigarettes, lighters, matches out of his reach. You physically provide him the cigarettes so that you know exactly when he is smoking and you can keep an watch on him during those times.
Also, making sure there are smoke detectors in the home and that they work. By him not having direct access to the cigarettes, you cut down on the big safety issues because you know when he’s smoking so you can monitor those moments.
But isn’t it unhealthy to smoke and drink, especially for someone with dementia on medications. Yes, but what will the cost be to trying to get that person to change? So for the Careblazer concerned about her husband drinking, some of the things I told her include:
So those were the gist of my responses to these Careblazers and I want to break this down into a framework you can use for yourself when trying to decide whether this is something to tackle in the moment or not.
I hope this 4 step framework can help you as you face the many challenges you face. If you want the opportunity to ask me a question live and get my feedback, then I invite you to sign up to be alerted the next time I open the doors to my Care Course. It’s my private program where I help you lower your stress, deal with the difficult caregiver moments, and offer you weekly question and answer sessions.
I’ll be back next week, Careblazer. In the meantime, keep up the great work.