I Hate You Dementia!!

As I continue my journey being a caregiver to individuals that are suffering from some type of dementia, I have become so angry at the disease some days I just want to run from it, not have to see it anywhere.  Then I remember how lucky all of us are, that we can run from it. Because those living with it cannot.  I have found that my shear hate of dementia has made me a better caregiver.  Instead of looking at the person with dementia as just that “a person with dementia”  I have switched my thinking to separate the two.  I am helping the person, not dementia, we are against dementia, and I am going to help this person not let it destroy there life!  I am going to help them maintain dignity, independence, and quality of life, we are not going to let dementia win!!

We can only fight this battle against dementia and more specifically alzheimer’s disease one day at a time, one person suffering at a time.  Some days all it takes is one person who has not smiled in months to smile at you for you to realize that there is a purpose, a purpose for what you do.


#1 Person To Be When Caring For Someone With Dementia, Is The Person On Their Side!

People suffering with dementia already feel alone, they don’t understand that their brain is shrinking.

BE ON THEIR SIDE.  If they are wrong, or if they are right it doesn’t matter because most of the time you are not going to convince them otherwise.  This task can be more difficult depending on the setting.  In a care facility sometimes you are dealing with issues between 2 residents.  In a home setting it is the caregiver, YOU!

If “Opel” points out the window and says “Wow look at all that snow” and there is none, don’t say “There isn’t any snow out there it is summer,” just agree.  What does it matter she is most likely going to forget in about 2 minutes when you head outside to sit in the sun!

People suffering with dementia already feel alone, they don’t understand that there brain is shrinking.  The unfortunate part is we can’t see or predict how quickly the brain will deteriorate we just have to adjust their care to help them live there life as happily as possible.

I have seen all stages, from being forgetful to taking there last breaths.  Everyday can be different and many days can be the same.  There is no explanations or predictions, the disease will make all the decisions  and decide what part of the brain to attack first.

In the middle stages of alzheimer’s, when I would visit my Grandma with my daughters, my Grandma would look at my daughters and say “Sorry I would love to visit but I have to go take care of Cassandra.” This was my oldest at the time, she was 8, my Grandma remembered her more around 2, she would look right at Cassandra and say she couldn’t visit because she had to go take care of her.  By this point I had talked to my girls about Grandma having a disease that made her brain not work right.  I would try to distract her so we could visit longer but if she insisted she had to go take care of Cassandra I would say ok and we would leave for a walk around the facility and then come back and visit with her for a while longer until she once again needed to “Go take care of Cassandra.”  I am not sure how long this behavior lasted, but to me it felt like years.  I wanted my Grandma to acknowledge my other 2 daughters, but she really never did.  It was always “Cassandra”.


I could have handled these visits much differently and insisted my oldest was Cassandra and that she sit there and visit because Cassandra was right here and there was no one for her to go take care of. This would be taking the one thing away that made my Grandma feel productive  What good would this have done?  My Grandma would have either felt like I was making her look stupid, or think I was the crazy one, either way she would not have felt like I was on her side. So I was always on her side, sometimes I would say I think Cassandra is with her dad and you should be able to visit a little longer, sometimes she would agree, sometimes not.  Telling her I was Cassandras Mom would always seem to confuse her, although she did recognize me as someone she loved and she still enjoyed visiting with the girls as did the other residents.

I experienced an incident between 2 residents the other day, one kicked the other and then the same lady preceded to attempt to coke her, I quickly grabbed to hand of the one being aggressive and walked with her out of the room all the while saying softly yes I saw her being mean and lets just get away from her, while all along it was the one I’m walking out of the room that was being aggressive, the other resident had done nothing, so far. Me being on her side even though she was in the wrong deescalated the situation quickly.

Caregivers need to continually try to put them selves in the shoes of the person with dementia when they are caring for them.  If you are a close family member sometimes it can be more difficult because you have strong emotions for this person and it is hard to accept that they may not remember you or something very relevant in life.  Remember it is not the person, it is the disease. Think out of the box.

Another example is your mother that you are caring for always insists she is at work, and wants to go home, well, she is home and you have told her this a hundred times, you are frustrated, you don’t know what to do.  Stop! think for a minute.  Why not say “Lets go home then,”  get in the car and drive around for awhile, come back to the house and say, “Well we are home, I sure had a long day at work, how about you?”  maybe it will work or maybe it will just distract her long enough to forget for a while.

Always being on their side can be difficult at times but in the end it is the easiest way to interact with your loved one or the one you are caring for.  Making a difference in their life one smile at a time should be our mission when caring for those with dementia, and  being on the same team as them makes it a lot easier.

Jodie Lawshe’   4-9-2017

Why I Have This Passion

Why I am a caregiver at a memory care facility and why I have a passion to make a difference.  My Grandmother had alzheimers and I watched her die from it. My Grandma was a very important part of my childhood, she played a role in raising me. In my early twenties we all started to notice strange behaviors like forgetting to cook her bacon and one time I followed her home from a family dinner and she was stopping at green lights and going on red.  We took her keys. At first my parents thought they could build an apartment on to their house for her but eventually it became more difficult and she needed 24 hour care and more assistance then my parents could provide.

Once in a nursing home she was in a wing of the facility that was specifically for patients with dementia.  Her care there was less then adequate.  At the time I was raising three small children, I did what I could and visited often.  I would go in and shower my grandma so she would get more then one shower a week. I have been told that family is no longer allowed to do this at this facility. I will say that I was one of the family members that annoyed the staff with questions and sometimes got upset with them when my Grandma did not appear as clean as I thought she should be or other various issues.  My Grandma died 12 years ago.

Over a year ago I was looking for something new. I had been a recruiter for the pulp and paper industry for several years, but was unfulfilled.  Without even realizing what it was I was looking for, a job at a memory care facility fell in my lap. The community was amazing and the owner of the memory care facility was passionate about her mission, to care for individuals with dementia, setting a high standard of care.   I started in activities and quickly moved to a caregivers position.  I also remembered instantly I was really good at this work. In my twenties I worked with the developmentally disabled community for about 8 years, I was really successful and quickly climbed the cooperate ladder. But I needed flexibility with having busy children at home.  I then worked for a family with a disabled daughter.  I worked in their home, could bring my children if needed, she was full care, feeding, bathing, everything. I then went on to be a recruiter, I still wanted flexibility but also wanted more money.  Which I found.  But money isn’t everything and did not bring me personal happiness, at the end of the day I did not feel like I had made a difference.  That is what lead me to return to being a caregiver.

I looked at all of the residents that I cared for like there were my Grandma, I take care of them the way I would like my own family taken care of.  It is trying at times but at the end of the day I know I am doing important work. Now I am searching for ways to make life happier and more rewarding for loved ones and caregivers.  For those so selflessly caring for there loved one at home and for those having to make the difficult decision to put there loved one in a facility, ( I like to call it a community because is just sounds better and that is what it should be anyways).

I hope I will be able to provide useful information and referrals you can trust.  I plan to take it to the next level and be able to recommend something or someplace and others know it comes from my heart and my passion and with the purest intent.

I know I will never get rich from being a caregiver. I will have a rich life.

Jodie Lawshe’