‘Mother, May I?’

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If Only I Can Remember By Regina Posvar

Q: DEAR Miss Regina, My mum has dementia for 5 years and she is not bathing anymore. My help tell me that she refuses. I told them that she cannot refuse, that she must have a bath at least 2 times a week. I watch the help while she showers her and she tries hard to help my mum. She is so angry in the shower and she does strike at her carer. How can I help her help my mum? When I try to help my mum, she is not as bad but it is not a good experience at all.


A good experience is what you want your mum to have. Step back and take a look at the experience in your memory and try to see where you think your mum was not happy. Was it before the shower? How was her mood before the shower? At the time of the change in her mood is where you may be able to change your initial approach. Are you giving her choices so she can have some sense of control? She will have days that she can do more for herself than other days. Do you ask her if you can wash areas of her body?

Do you recall a game called “Mother, May I?” The point is asking for permission to do something. This is respectful to her and her own body. There could be a number of things causing your mum stress in the bathroom. You and her care partner will have to evaluate how you think your mum might be feeling and adjust. Always ask before you touch her. Try to have a routine as in giving her a bath daily at her favourite time is more helpful than twice a week.

Q: How do I talk to my young children about Nana? She has memory problems and I find my daughter who is 6 years old arguing with Nana.

A: It is very hard for young children to cope with changes at all ages, especially when they do not understand what is happening. When children understand what is happening to their loved ones, they adapt a lot easier than adult children or spouses of loved ones with dementia.

Be honest and talk to them about the disease in simple language that they understand. This link can help you learn with them. https://kids.alzheimersresearchuk.org/

You can talk about things that she can still do and how it may change later. Encourage questions from them and ask them how they are feeling about the person with dementia and listen to their feelings. See if they have any worries. Talk to your daughter about Nana when she was younger and the things she did — use photos. This will help with interaction between Nana and children.

It is not recommended to leave a small child alone or in charge unless they are comfortable themselves and can cope.

Have patience with your children as this is hard on them, too.

Q: Dear Regina, My husband was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. He has become very suspicious of everything I do. Is this part of his dementia?

A: Yes, this can be a symptom and even accusing others of theft, infidelity or other improper behaviour. While accusations can be hurtful, remember that the disease is causing these behaviours and try not to take offense.

If a person with dementia has delusions or hallucinations that are harmful to self or others or is causing discomfort, see a doctor. It is always best to use non-medication interventions but sometimes it is appropriate to use medication. In most situations, you can take these recommendations from the alz.org below:
Don’t take offense.
Listen to what is troubling the person and try to understand that reality. Then be reassuring and let the person know you care.

Don’t argue or try to convince.
Allow the individual to express ideas. Acknowledge his or her opinions.

Offer a simple answer.
Share your thoughts with the individual, but keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm the person with lengthy explanations or reasons.

Switch the focus to another activity.
Engage the individual in an activity or ask for help with a chore.

Duplicate any lost items.
If the person is often searching for a specific item, have several available. For example, if the individual is always looking for his or her wallet, purchase two of the same kind.

Share your experience with others.

Join support groups in your area or online.The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month is “Remember
Me”. Join your local Alzheimer’s Association and support. For St. Lucia Alzheimer & Dementia Association (SLADA), to support the awareness, wear purple anytime of the month of September, take a picture and send to email angelsofthewest@outlook.com or WhatsApp 758-486-4509.

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