How would you feel?
The other day I had lunch with Dr. Padma Shukla, a board-certified cardiologist based in Reston. Dr. Shulka has many elderly patients, some with Alzheimer's. She was sharing with me how sad she was feeling over how a daughter was treating her mother with Alzheimer's. She was describing how the daughter kept berating her mom to remember things she can't remember and trying to re-educate her to do things she can no longer do. Dr. Shukla said she tried to tell the daughter "How would you feel if someone treated you this way?" Sadly, it didn't seem to be sinking in with the daughter.
Unfortunately, I see this far too many times. I've probably been guilty of it myself. Maybe not to the point of berating people to remember, but every time I say "Don't you remember?" How must anybody feel when their memories fade and they can't remember. What we think is a gentle reminder just serves to make them feel worse.
I have been thinking about our conversation and I know I am going to resolve to spend more time thinking about how I would feel if someone treated me this way, especially if that someone was my own close family.
So, please, if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's and they think they still have a job, let them think that. Does it really hurt you or anyone else?
People who care for Alzheimer's patients have a saying, "Go on the journey with them." You never know, you might learn something. I can tell you, it's way less stressful--for everyone.
The Alzheimer's Association has a great Web site filled with resources and a 24-hour hotline staffed by volunteers who are directly affected by Alzheimer's. So, write this number down and keep it by your phone: 800-272-3900.
Toni Reinhart| December 14, 2010; 6:11 AM ET Save & Share:
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