Top Caregiving lessons to bring into 2021
Jan 11, 2021
Welcome back Careblazer. We are into the 2nd week of 2021! Before we get any further, how would you like the most popular Careblazer lessons of 2020 broken down to the biggest takeaways in about 10 minutes? I hope you’ll bring these into the 2021 for more peaceful and meaningful interactions with your loved one.
Let’s start with the 3rd most popular video of 2020. This video shared 5 SIMPLE ways to improve difficult dementia behaviors. The key word here being simple. After watching this video, Christine said it was the “best advice ever!” Well I’m glad it was helpful to her and I’d love for it to be helpful to you.
Here are the 5 simple ways to improve difficult dementia behaviors:
- #1 Be mindful of your facial expressions. Your non-verbals, especially your facial expressions matter more than what you are saying. If there is anything you take away from this video, it’s this. Be mindful of your facial expressions. You can be saying the sweetest most lovely things, but if you look stressed, your loved one will pick up on that and me more likely to show a difficult behavior.
- #2 Be mindful of your tone of voice. Similar to facial expressions, how you say something often matters more than what you are specifically saying.
- #3 Stop correcting. This gets to the point that if you correct all the things your loved one says or does that is incorrect, you can really start to wear away at the relationship and they can start resisting your care or resenting your care. If their safety isn’t a concern, most of the time, it’s simply best to avoid the correction.
- #4 Avoid saying no. Now this doesn’t mean, say yes to everything. It just means that when your loved one asks to do something or tires to do something you don’t want them to do, the word no can serve as a trigger. Rather than that, you can respond with a sentence that acknowledges what they said and helps the conversation without ending up in a battle of them insisting on what they want and you trying to get them to accept that it’s not possible. If any of you have tried this, then you know that doesn't go over well. To learn more about this specific approach and how you can apply it, you’ll want to go back and watch the specific video which i’ll be sure to link in the description. I’ll actually link all 3 of these top 3 videos in the description below.
- And finally, #5. Avoid the urge to reason with your loved one. When your loved one wants to do something or believes something that isn’t true, we often want to correct which we just talked about but then we also want to reason with them about why what they want can’t happen. For example, they can’t go to work today, they’ve been retired for 10 years and are no longer able to remember much information. Or, they want to go home and don’t understand they are already at home. Your attempts to reason with them and explain to them that they are retired or that they are already home often lead to more frustration and behavioral challenges- the exact opposite of what you want.
Now for the 2nd most popular video of 2020. This video was on how to have a meaningful conversation with someone with dementia. AND, if you live with your loved one and don’t talk on the phone with them, that’s okay. You can still use some of these principles. After watching this video, Julie commented, “Because of this video, I just had the best conversation with my mom that I’ve had in a long time!” Well that’s great and I want the same for you. Here are some specific ideas discussed in that video:
- Reminisce with your loved one. Basically what you do is you choose a topic from their past and you ask a question around it. For example, you can bring up the topic of their first car, their wedding, holidays as a child, family vacations, etc. and you ask about them. Tell me about your first car? How did you get it? What are some of your favorite memories of the car and so on. You are getting them to tap into those long term memories….the ones that are the last to go and you’d be surprised at some of the things they may tell you. Many Careblazers tell me they’ve learned new information about their loved ones after trying this exercise.
- The next idea is to play a game on the phone. For example, playing a game of guess what where you take turns describing something and seeing if they can guess it. In fact, Frank watched this video and said. “I played the guessing game with my mother who lives in assisted living. She loved it and was very good at guessing the objects I was describing. She in fact "beat" me in the game and was very proud of herself. Hearing her laugh again was amazing!”
- Do an activity together. For instance, you can call your loved one and ask them to walk you through their recipe to make their delicious chocolate chip cookies. You can certainly go along and make the recipe, you can just let them walk you through the steps, even if they forget a step or two, it can be a way to strengthen the relationship, make them feel valued, and help make the conversation more enjoyable by thinking of an activity that you can do together
Here’s to happier conversations in the near future.!
And now, for the top video of 2020! The most popular video that you all loved was on 4 common dementia caregiving mistakes. And after watching this video, many of you came up with the acronym CART for my 4 mistakes, so I’m going to use that here. Now I do want to acknowledge that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and you all do amazing wonderful things on a regular basis. But in this specific video, I covered some common mistakes in hopes you can avoid them moving forward. Because when you avoid doing these things, your relationship improves, your loved ones behavior improves, and your stress level improves.
- The first one is C- correcting. Avoid correcting your loved one. We covered that one earlier in the how to reduce difficult behaviors video.
- The second one is A- Arguing or disagree with your loved one. Look, by not arguing or disagreeing, that doesn't automatically mean you agree, but there are some things that are okay to not disagree on simply because you would prefer to have more peace in your day. The nuances and technique of how to avoid this is described in detail in that video, so be sure to watch that episode if you missed it.
- The 3rd common mistake is R - ready for it?- reasoning. Yup, we’ve covered this as well in the previous video but the reason some of these pop up again and again is because they are so easy to do yet so harmful to the relationship so we want to avoid this at all costs.
- And finally, the 4th mistake is T- “Testing” your loved one. What this means is that you ask your loved one questions that you know the answer to but you want to check to see if they know they answer the question. You want to see how bad their memory is or how they are doing that day. So you may ask, do you remember who this is? Or what is it that we are supposed to do today. These questions can be belittling and demeaning and there are many natural ways that your loved one’s impaired memory will reveal itself throughout the days that creating more of these experiences is not necessary and will cause more strain on your relationship and lead to more difficult behaviors.
Okay, Careblazer there you have it. The 3 most popular videos of 2020 based on your views. I’ve linked all of them below this video for you to watch them in full. AND, for those of you who stayed until the end, I have something special to share.
ALSO, I’ve created a new product, It’s called memory lane and it’s designed to use reminiscence therapy to help you have some of the best conversations with your loved one. It’s a card game. You can keep them by the phone, on your kitchen table, in the living room and whenever you want you can grab a card, ask a question, and enjoy some of the best conversations you’ve ever had with your loved one. There are only 100 sets of these games. For a sneak peak at the cards and how to get on the waiting list so you can be one of the 100 people to grab a deck when they go on sale, click this link.