In my younger years I took care of elderly nuns that had dementia. It wasn’t my first time being around this disease as my grandmother had it. However it was my first time hearing harsh mean words toward me from strangers and out of the ordinary actions from people.
One evening I was in charge of getting Sister M. ready to go to dinner. After many attempts we finally walked down to the dining room. I sat her with the other nuns at her table. As I sat down to help feed three other nuns I had my back turned toward Sister M. All of a sudden many people started screaming! I bowed my head, closed my eyes and just knew Sister M. was doing something to upset others. As I turned around, there she stood head held high, eyes closed, completely naked. I tried pulling her robe around her as she fought to stay naked. Once back in her room I informed her that we needed to brush her teeth. She looked right through me and would not respond. Finally after about 15 minutes I asked her if she was ready to go to the bathroom and brush her teeth. She finally spoke and said; “honey, your breath stinks!” I took a deep breath and promised her I would brush my teeth after we brushed hers. She agreed and we walked to the bathroom where she stood and brushed her teeth for about 15 minutes.
The lesson for all of us from this story is to remember to always be kind and practice patience, even when we think we are out of patience. To remind ourselves that it is truly not our client or family member talking but the disease speaking to us.
In the United States we have more than 3 million cases of dementia reported each year. Also, “in the United States, there are about 15 million people caring for someone with dementia, and millions of others around the world.” There is no cure for this disease and limited medical treatments.
Remember to always reach out for help and give yourself a break now and then. Join support groups to help you on this journey. To learn how to manage your stress practice deep breathing exercises, go for a walk, join a yoga or meditation class.
Wherever you need help Brightstar of Reno is there for you. We can help with round the clock care, part time care, and emotional support. Let us be of service to you and your loved one during this time.