This YouTube podcast is based on the original article – Connecting with a person living with dementia –
Are you a subscriber of AlzheimersReadingRoom.com? Why not give it a try, it's free? Join 32,613 active readers –
Transcript – How to Connect and Communicate with a Person Living with Dementia
When two people know each other for a long time, they are like two individual circles that connect. Each person is a circle and the intersection of those two circles contains their common experiences. From experience they gain knowledge of each other, and this, in turn, is how they relate to each other. The greater the intersection of life, the greater the understanding and the stronger the relationship – the bond between the two.
When dementia strikes, probably Alzheimer's, there is often a change in this dynamic. The change occurs because one of the two people begins to have problems with their memory and brain. And this causes changes in the way they are able to relate to others.
The dynamics of communication change. It often seems that the two circles have separated, or as if they are no longer connected.
It is always logical that the caregiver, a family member or a friend try to continue in life in the same way as always. After all, they have not changed. They will try to cope and communicate with the person who is deeply forgotten in a way they always have. Why not? It worked in the past.
But it does not work when the person they meet is living with dementia. This makes the person who is not living with dementia confused. This confusion leads to what can best be described as cognitive dissonance.
When a person experiences cognitive dissonance, they experience excessive mental stress and discomfort. They may feel a real emotional and physical discomfort that is psychological in nature. This happens because they still do not understand how to make the necessary changes to deal with and communicate with the person living with dementia.
At times, it seems as if the person living with Alzheimer's and the caregiver have completely opposite and contradictory beliefs. That happens because every person now sees the world differently.
In short, the person living with dementia begins to participate in actions that are completely alien to us, difficult to understand, and often impossible to understand, at least in the beginning.
When you reach a point of cognitive dissonance, you are often ready to explode. At this point, you have tried to explain to the person living with Alzheimer's that what they are doing or saying is wrong or not, blah, blah, blah. But instead of cooperating or agreeing with you, they often do exactly the opposite. The person living with dementia engages in behavior or uses words that make them want to explode in frustration and sometimes anger. Of course, we often regret these actions or the use of words and we feel very sad. And, yes, sometimes we feel depressed.
I had to learn all these before I could implement the kind of change that was necessary to cope effectively, understand and communicate with the person living with dementia.
I wrote about this in an article entitled Alzheimer's World: Two circles that try to intersect. I wrote: "It takes a lot of thinking, hard work, and developing a new mental construction of communication and behavior to understand Alzheimer's disease and the person living with dementia."
When Alzheimer settled in, the way my mother and I communicated changed abruptly, almost overnight. It was as if our ability to communicate would have been stolen. Our ability to communicate robbed us.
I know and understood that these changes were caused by Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, my mother could not see the change. He could not understand what was happening to him. When my mother said something wrong or acted in crazy behavior, I experienced the same emotions that I had all my life: anger, frustration, agitation, what you call. Why not? I felt the same feelings and emotions that I have been experiencing for 50 years. I have 50 years of practice.
In Alzheimer's World, you come to accept that it is not about you. It is the person who lives with Alzheimer's. You have the opportunity to decide: Are you willing to change? Are you willing to accept that much of what you are saying, hearing and feeling is normal if you have Alzheimer's disease? Or are you going to keep trying to lead the person you know and love back to the world, to your world, to the place that for you is the real world?
Alzheimer's patients are easily confused. This happens because they often perceive the world around them differently than you and I do. Sometimes they can not put all the pieces together. When that happens, they often act. How do you feel when you are confused? Do you bend in shape, do you feel disconcerted? Do you feel frustrated or angry? Chances are you will.
Video credits to Alzheimer’s Reading Room YouTube channel