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Dementia Caregiver Thoughts: Part 2--How your thoughts impact your LOWD

Uncategorized Apr 14, 2019

Welcome back Careblazer! Today I am going to continue the discussion from last week on the power of your thoughts but I want to specifically focus on how your YOUR thinking actually impacts your loved one’s behavior. It’s pretty wild that your thinking can actually impacts your loved one’s mood for better or for worse and I'm hoping that by watching this video you can apply it to help you.

If you missed last week’s discussion, I recommend you stop reading this one and go back to last week’s blog or watch the video first. Then come right on back. To read last weeks blog click here. To watch the video click here

As a quick recap, last week we talked about how situations don’t create your emotions. It’s your thinking about the situation that creates your emotion.

Let’s take an example straight out of the Careblazer Survival guide for a quick review.

SITUATION: Your mom lost her purse again and is yelling that you stole her purse.

THOUGHT: She’s such a liar! I can’t believe she has the nerve to accuse me of stealing her purse after everything I do for her!

FEELING: Anger.

To illustrate how the situation doesn’t lead to the emotion of anger, another person has the same situation but this time instead of feeling thinking XXXX, she thinks XXXX and she actually feels compassion.

SITUATION: Your mom lost her purse again and is yelling that you stole her purse.

THOUGHT: Her mind is trying to understand how her purse is missing again. What an awful disease.

FEELING: Compassion and understanding.

Now what does any of this have to do with impacting your loved one’s behavior?

In the first example, feeling angry, you are more likely to:

BEHAVIOR: You snap back at your mother. The rest of the day is tense with little communication. Your mother chooses not to eat dinner that night.

In the second example, feeling compassion and understanding, you are more likely to:

BEHAVIOR: You tell your mother you that you love her, will help her find her purse and then you two engage in a pleasant activity together.

Do you see how the situation was the same (your mom accused you of stealing her purse), but your feeling and actions afterwards were different based on what you thought about the situation? This is a really quick example to show how our thoughts are important and to hopefully encourage you to be mindful of your thoughts.

As you can see the way you feel, impacts your actions and your actions most definitely impact your loved one. Have you ever noticed that the more stressed and in a rush you are, the more difficulty your loved one has? It can seem like they are giving you a hard time at the WORST moments! And a lot of that may actually be coming from you and what your loved one is picking up from you.

When the brain is no longer able to pick up on all the details and understand all the different things happening in the world, it has to fill in the blanks and the best way for someone to fill in the blanks is by looking at the people around them. Most times, people with dementia focus more on other people’s emotions and facial expressions than they do on the specific words. If you look angry, if you look stressed, those are cues to that something is wrong and they start to act accordingly.

I think this model is great news because it shows that we may have some influence in improving our situations. In improving our loved one’s behavior.

BUT, now you understand your thoughts can impact your mood and behavior, AS WELL AS, your loved one’s actions. Because you understand the relationship between thoughts and feelings, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to find yourself completely frustrated and thinking negative thoughts. We are all human and those moments are completely natural. If you haven’t watched my video on difficult caregiver emotions, you can watch it here

BUT, it is not okay to let those negative thoughts hang out in your mind and simmer. When you notice that you are having a negative thought toward your loved one, you want to be able to replace those thoughts with something that will be more helpful- for you AND your loved one. It takes work, it takes practice but with time and practice it becomes more natural, it becomes more second nature and I can say that Careblazers who practice this approach end up having an easier time in the long run because of the positive benefits that have resulted in their loved one.

The short term approach is to continue doing exactly what you are doing without change. It’s easier in the short run.

The long term approach is to put in some work, think about this model, change your thoughts, and enjoy the benefits that come as a result. It requires a bit more work up front but the payoff is much better.

Careblazer, you know hard moments are coming, that is a reality. It’s important to know how to recognize any thoughts you may be having that’s making things worse and start to change those thoughts.

NOW, one of the things that really gets Careblazers worked up about this approach is the thought that  your loved one knows exactly what they are doing. The Careblazers that feel, that know, their LO is purposefully trying to give you a hard time. If you have these thoughts, then I want you to be sure to come back next Sunday where I answer the question “Is your loved one doing this on purpose?” I’m going to take the model we just discussed above and I’m going to answer this question.  

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on this model below. Can you see the connection between how your thinking leads to your mood which leads to your action and ultimately impacts your loved one?  

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