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How To Get Someone With Dementia To Change

Careblazer, I don't know if you can hear it right now, but there is a major storm happening right outside of my window, but I am not gonna let that stop me from recording another video for you. So if you hear like some wind helling or blowing, that's because there is a major storm happening right now in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Okay, So in this post today, I wanna talk about something that is blocking the behavior change you want to see in your loved one with dementia, the number one. Reason That stops a lot of caregivers from being able to figure out what is going to change the behavior, what is actually going to get the person with dementia to change is you labeling the behavior.

 


If you would rather watch a video on this topic, click here.


 

You interpreting the behavior. This is what I mean. But let's take one of the big examples. So many people struggle with the person with dementia, might not want to shower or bathe. When I work with some of my clients individually and I ask, Well, what's the problem? They often say something to me like my loved one is refusing to bathe.

 

Now you know the importance of your thoughts because your thoughts create your reality. When you have the thought "my person is refusing to bathe or do anything", you're likely going to feel frustrated because the person is refusing. So this is actually stopping you from being able to find the behavior change you want, because of what you've done before we've even gotten to any other steps of the process, this is just the very first step.

 

You have labeled the behavior and your labeling of that behavior might be wrong. In fact, most of the time it is. One of my most favorite examples, which you've probably heard me say before, was when this caregiver was caring for her mom and she kept putting tissue boxes on her feet and she was thinking, My mom is wasting tissue because her mom would take the tissues out of the box and then put the box on her feet. And so every attempt that this caregiver did was focused on how to stop my mom from wasting tissues. And it had nothing to do with the tissues. Her mom just wanted something on her feet.

So in step number one, when you are trying to figure out how to change a behavior, you have to make sure you don't label it, don't interpret it, because often times you are interpreting it from your viewpoint, from your mindset, from your perspective. And that is going to be probably a different reality than your loved one's mindset and perspective. So rather than interpret and label, you want to specifically describe what it is that your person with dementia is doing. If we take this example of bathing and showering, the person is not refusing. The person said no, or said they already showered, or started to walk into the bathroom and then walked out, or the person pushed you and said, "get away from me" when you tried to touch them in the bathroom.

Does this make sense? You are actually describing the specific behavior that's step one, that that's where most people have already put themselves behind the ball, have made it so much more difficult to figure out the behavior because we are saying they're refusing, they're arguing, they don't want to, they're being challenging and already that's going to make things harder.

 

That's actually not what's happening, whether you realize it or not. The thing that your person with dementia is doing is actually communicating something. It's actually serving a purpose. It has some meaning to them. And so long as we're gonna keep saying they're refusing or they don't want to, we're never gonna uncover that.

 

We're never gonna figure it out. So we want to describe specifically what is it in the specific words that they said. What is it that they specifically. Refusing is up to interpretation. That could look like so many things, but saying, I already showered this week. Well, now that's very clear. We can all have a very clear picture in mind of what that person said.

 

Then once you've described specifically the behavior that the person is doing, you can start to ask yourself, where might it make sense for somebody to say that? Where might it make sense for somebody to do that specific behavior? When might it make sense for somebody to do or say those specific things. From there, your brain can open up to curiosity.

 

Your brain will now start to think of a way that is actually fueled by logic rather than fueled by emotion, which a lot of times when we're trying to deal with a difficult behavior, we're fueled by emotion a lot because we're just frustrated and burnt out.

 

The problem is we know that's not going to work. So when we start to ask these questions, when is this behavior acceptable? When might people actually say they have already showered? When might people actually push somebody in the bathroom? Where might that make sense? When might that make sense?

All of a sudden, your brain now is gonna think, well it might make sense when somebody is tired and they don't feel like doing anything. It might make sense when they feel like they are vulnerable or somebody's trying to get them to do something they don't want to do. It might make sense when the person is feeling like their privacy is being infringed upon, because now when you start thinking about that, it's like, Oh, okay, well they thought maybe it was a privacy issue.

 

Now how could you approach this differently? Maybe I would let them go into the bathroom on their own a bit, or maybe I would start the shower and then step out and let them kind of get things going if that was safe. Or maybe I would allow them to wear some boxers or shorts while they're in the shower and I'm trying to help them to kind of help with the privacy issue.

 

All of a sudden you change your approach. You start to think, "Okay, what might be different when you are labeling the behavior?" Things like refusal or they're being difficult on purpose or they're trying to manipulate you on purpose. or they're just trying to make your life harder become less likely options. These assumptions just make you more frustrated and get you further away from changing the behavior.

 

The majority of the time. I promise you, it has nothing to do with trying to make your life miserable. It has something to do with how they are interpreting the situation. You're never going to figure that out when you've already interpreted it for them from your perspective. We have to try to understand where this might be coming from.

 

Back to the tissue box example, when the caregiver thinks, "Okay, this must mean something, which most behaviors mean something, you just might not realize it yet. What might it mean when somebody's putting something on their feet? When do people actually put something on their feet? Oh, when they try to put socks on or try to put shoes on, Right?

And in this example, all her mom wanted was the socks. And so she figured it out. The tissue boxes weren't an issue, never became an issue again. They were able to sit there and her mom never repeated the behavior. But when you label the behavior, You've already narrowed in on what you think is the issue and we've closed off all of our other options. We don't want to do that.

Now, I have done several videos on specific tips for bathing. Cause I know that's what's going through everybody's mind right now. Well, what can I do? What can I try? Here's a video right here. I'm gonna link to them here and here. You can check them out and get all of the specific tools.

 

But the most important message here that I hope you could take away is do not label. Do not interpret the behavior in the first step. The first step is just to state very logically what it is that they are doing, what it is that they are saying.

You wanna make sure that whatever you put down in there could be agreed upon by everybody, right? There's no room for interpretation, like refusing. What does that mean? Saying, I already took a shower. Very clear.

If you need a refresher, open up the behavior changer. Go through all of those steps with the specific problem, behavior in mind, and you can start applying those steps to your situation. We have a live Q&A coming up. You can ask me about it there I'll work with you through it.

For those of you who are not in the Dementia Care club, but you'd like to know more, click here and learn more about that program and learn how to work with me personally and connect with the most amazing careblazers in the world.

 

 



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