There will be many situations when a caregiver must decide what role to play. It can become awkward being the guardian, especially when one is caring for a parent. But that’s exactly the role that must be assumed. While being my father’s caregiver for over a decade, I experienced a plethora of times when I felt uneasy using a voice of authority toward him. I’m not speaking about scolding him, just using a voice of stern reason.
This behavior triumphs over the rule I was taught from a young age respect your elders! Dealing with those who are living with dementia, who have reached a senior status necessitates that you assume the right to disregard that golden etiquette mandate.
As a caregiver, prepare for your time to be monopolized. One reason you need to be constantly by their side is that they may no longer able to make safe decisions; therefore, it is acceptable using a parental voice within reason.
Safety is a top priority. If using a voice of authority redirects a patient from wandering out the front door without resulting in an anxiety attack you did the right thing.
Usually, the primary caregiver runs the whole household, becoming a business manager as well. When you, yourself take on the responsibilities as if you were running a business, it is not a bad way to go about things. Learn to write everything down and make a schedule devoting certain times to care for unavoidable tasks. If you’re paying any of the household bills, electronic checking is a blessing. Automatic payments might keep you from sitting in the dark. Trust me, the electric company doesn’t care that you’ve been sitting by a loved one’s side twenty-four hours a day and that’s why you simply forgot to mail a check.
According to research, there are two kinds of caregivers; the one that can accept the situation and the second kind that has trouble adapting. Surveys show that nonadopters’ deal with patients that experience a higher level of hyperactivity. I’ve always believed people with dementia feed off their caregiver’s emotions. The smoother the household runs, the easier it will be to keep up a positive, calm demeanor. Even so, there’ll always be moments when everything feels like it’s falling apart.
Listen to your own inner voice of authority and brush those other moments aside. Cling to the simplicities; things have a way of sorting themselves out.
Gary Joseph LeBlanc, CDCS
Director of Education
Dementia Spotlight Foundation