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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Communication Sunday, March 10, 2013

It used to be frustrating to try to hold a conversation with my husband who has moderate to late stage Alzheimer's disease. As his caregiver, I would ask him to do something and he would not comply. I learned to do more for him, finally understanding that his non-compliance was not willful, but his inability either to understand what I was trying to say, or to do what was asked of him.
For example, I would tell him it was getting a bit chilly outside,please put on a sweater or a jacket before we go out. He would say no, it's not cold.
I would say it's not cold in here, but it is 62 degrees outside. He might argue or walk out.

Now I pick up the jacket and hold it. When we get outside, I wait for him to say it's cold. I help him put on the jacket and off we go for our walk. Simple, right? It took me a long time to learn.

Why did it take me so long to learn something that sounds so easy to accommodate?

I did not want to reduce my expectation that my husband COULD understand what I was saying. I did not want to do more for him than he needed me to do, feeling he was taking advantage of me by being argumentative. I wanted to see my husband as healthier than he was.

One day my husband was given a box with four chocolates inside. He opened the box, smelled it and said "chocolates." He smiled, but he did not take a chocolate from the box. He put the box down. Later when he had a glass of milk, I took one chocolate from the box and placed it on a napkin next to him. He ate it and smiled. That was good communication.

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