I recently worked with a client whose wife refused to bathe or shower. His wife would say, “I already bathed,” or “I do not need your help.” He was understandably frustrated and upset. During our coaching session, I asked if there had been any times in the past when they had showered together. He smiled, and told me how he had broken his arm early in their marriage. His wife would get into the shower and help him. I suggested that HE ASK HIS WIFE for help when he showered. This would at least get her into the shower stall. It worked!
Despite all the materials that are “out there,” some people find that they can become better care partners much more quickly and efficiently with support and coaching from an expert. Here are some reasons why this may be a good idea.
YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. THE METHODS ARE FAILING YOU!
Dementia is not one-size-fits-all. Absolutely not! First, there are many kinds of dementia. Some dementias, like the behavioral variation of frontotemporal dementia, start out with more behaviors than forgetfulness. Other dementias, like Lewy-Body Disease, have a pattern of up-and-down memory…so that it seems like the person with Lewy Body Disease is “doing this on purpose” (trust me, they are NOT!). You also have the added mix of personality! Many personality traits can be exaggerated by the dementia. The solid matriarch can become the tyrant who refuses to do anything. A skilled and compassionate expert in dementia care can help you enter the person’s reality by showing you how personality and disease simultaneously create the reality that the person with dementia is experiencing.
“I know she has dementia. How do I handle her?” Some blogs and book chapters may be helpful and may improve your understanding of the specific behaviors you are dealing with…but do these venues provide strategies for managing (and decreasing) the behaviors? Many do not. Many provide very general advice when a care partner needs much more direction. An expert dementia coach will listen to your situation and help you to “decode” the behaviors.
Care partners have different learning styles. I am a visual learner. I need to SEE something to understand and apply it. Other people learn by listening. All adults, however, learn best when they know the rationale for something, when they know WHY something will work. This knowing of the “why” behind the “what” helps adults to transfer knowledge and experience from one situation to a seemingly unrelated new experience. An expert dementia coach can explain the “why” of a behavior in such a way that you, the care partner, will have an epiphany about the behaviors…and their meaning to a person with dementia.
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS DURING COACHING?
The best coaching sessions involve 2-3 family members so that everyone is on the same page. The group coaching also allows family members who reside in different cities, states, even countries, to come together and hear the same information. It is also the more cost-effective option, because the cost of a session can be shared by several people.
I use a video-conferencing program, Clickmeeting.com. Once we set up a day and time, you receive a link from me. You can check your computer’s compatibility using that link. You can also download the free app on a tablet or cell phone and use those devices. We will be able to see and hear each other. I will have offer ideas and suggestions based on your unique situation.
WOULD DEMENTIA COACHING HELP YOU?
I am happy to speak with family care partners who want to explore if this is a service that would be beneficial. As many of you may know from my frequent contributions to ARR and my collaborations with Bob DeMarco, I’m a nurse practitioner with a research doctorate. My research is all about handling dementia-related behaviors without medications.