Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Expect It….It’s Going to Happen


Expect it.

It’s going to happen. That sounds ominous. It is not exactly a cheery thought, but it is true. Expect the unexpected. You will never be let down. If you expect the unexpected in caregiving, the journey becomes easier.

Let me explain.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls. Sometimes there is just one curve ball and the bases are not loaded. Sometimes there might be several curve balls with the bases fully loaded. You can never be sure of the life situation, but you can be sure the unexpected is going to stop and make you ponder.

Momma’s dementia continues to advance. She throws curve balls at me regularly, and sometimes I am not prepared. I like to think of myself as an individual who understands dementia and is ready to handle this caregiving journey. In reality, things happen that make me scratch my head and wonder.

Momma recently moved to a new memory care community. She is doing amazingly well, and I am beyond happy. However, she called me a few evenings ago, around  7:00 p.m., to announce she had been in her apartment the entire day and had not been invited to participate in any of the community’s activities. She also stated she had only been served one meal!

Oh my goodness! How could this happen?

Well, it did not happen.

You see, I had been in Momma’s community earlier in the day. By the time I arrived, she had enjoyed her morning yogurt and herbal tea, participated in three morning activities, eaten lunch, and was seriously involved in a game of “Name That Tune Bingo.” I knew Momma’s story did not match her day. However, her brain was certain her story was factual.

Realize what your loved one is telling you may not be true… at all. Many times their stories will hold an element of truth that has been exaggerated, and sometimes their stories will have no basis of truth whatsoever. More and more I see that later situation with Momma. If you ask Momma, she will tell you she picks out all her clothes, does her makeup, and chooses her jewelry.

No, she doesn’t.

I go along with Momma’s stories. I act surprised when she tells me she has not participated in anything all day, and I congratulate her in doing such a fabulous job with her makeup. And then I quickly change the subject to get her mind on a different subject.

Don’t be thrown a curve ball by the stories you hear from your loved ones. Smile, go with the flow, and change the subject. That is called Diversion Therapy, and it is a great technique to master.

Hope that gives you Something to Ponder.

Carol Howell
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