Managing Stress

Articles about handling and managing stress with Alzheimers

Empathetic Communication

For years, loving caregivers have searched for gentle ways to respond to people with dementia. What do you say when your 90 year old mother is looking for her mother? Or when your husband says he wants you to take him home when you leave the facility?

Initially we tried reality orientation, trying to force the person's brain to come back into our world. For example, telling the mother that her mother is dead and telling the husband that he's never going home again. This strategy led to accusations of lying, confrontations and tears, plus, it didn't work.

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Sharing Bad News

Sharing bad news about the illness or death of a loved one is difficult under the best of circumstances. When it involves telling bad news to someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, the process becomes laden with doubt and confusion. Should you tell? How should you tell? Who should tell? And the list of questions goes on.

This article will address these and other complex issues. First, it provides guidelines to assist in making the decision to share bad news, for example serious illness or death of a loved one, with the person with dementia. Secondly, it offers suggestions to help with the process of telling the person with dementia bad news.

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Benefits of Positive Physical Approach

It's true...in dementia, the emotional memories outlast the short-term memories. In working with some people in dementia units, I've really started to see how making an emotional connection with someone, and validating their emotions, helps to continue that interaction.

When I received occupational training, I learned about empathetic statements, but I didn't really have an "Aha" moment until I understood empathetic statements aren't about understanding someone's emotions, it's about opening and continuing a conversation or dialogue based on validating their emotions. It opens up a pathway to connecting with another person/other people. The first time I saw this happen, I felt that not only was it the biggest gift I have received from this field of work, but I began to understand how it would impact all other aspects of my life.

It's wonderful to me to go back to a dementia care facility and see people who I've made an emotional connection with who may not remember my name or who I am but are obviously glad to see me. I can see the emotional memory still functioning. It's a wonderful thing.

Talking to My Parents

The following excerpt comes from the transcript of a workshop for members of the "Baby Boom Generation" on conducting family meetings, led by Rev. Dr. Holden in Hawaii in December 2005.

It wasn't the early morning call. It wasn't the hurried preparations and flight to Florida. It wasn't the strange hospital or even the startling news that his mother and father had been holding back information from him over the past years. With both parents in their late 70s, my friend Steve knew there would come a day when their lifelong independence would be shaken by an unannounced change in the health of one or both of them.

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