How I can maintain a positive and supportive attitude as a caregiver?

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My aunt's memory & common sense are 40% lost & is defensive. She's in her late 80's and I moved into her one bedroom apartment about 2 months ago. We are both female. I learned that her memory and her ability to make sense of things works at about 55% capacity. Her emotional level is very childlike and other times she's fine. She also speaks like a child about 40% of the time. She also can get confused very easily, and often when we are walking about in familiar areas, can't figure out where she is, or even if she's in her own town. I end up repeating myself many times. When I ask her to make changes for sanitation reasons that can affect her/our health, she is usually defensive. Sometimes her tone is rude and she say things that are out in left field.

I'm trying my best to remain positive and supportive, but lately have been struggling with impatience. I could really use some help with any suggestions on things I can say to myself to adapt a better understanding for this situation so that my patience remains intact. My goal is to have an attitude toward her that is pleasant, respectful, supportive, understanding and nice to be around, as much as humanly possible.

What phrases do you tell yourself to keep up a great attitude to keep you pleasant?

Answers 1 to 10 of 15
So, what is the story behind you're moving in with her? Is this a caregiving situation or a roommate situation? What was your understanding at the outset, and what is your understanding now?

It sounds from your description as though she has some sort of dementia, not age related decline. Has she been thoroughly evaluated for this? Will she allow you to accompany her to a neuropsych evaluation?

Sadly, dementias are progressive, meaning they get worse. She may accuse you of stealing from her, mistreating her and the like. What is your legal standing in her life, and in her apartment?

I understand that you want to take care of her, but you need to take care of YOU first.
Top Answer
You should use this site to learn about dementia. Yes, you will be repeating lots, but avoid arguing, and correcting her. Tell what she needs to hear to comfort her.

My Dad has mild to moderate dementia. When I visit he can see my car in the driveway from his easy chair. Our conversations go like this: what kind of car is that? It's a chevy Dad. Good car? Yea, it's been a good car. What kinda gas milage ya get? About 30 mpg dad.............TEN MINUTES LATER.......What kind of car is that? Eventually I redirect him with a question about the old days and he can still ramble on pretty well with a little prompting. When he bogs down....What kind of car you say that is?................this goes on for days but I'm used to it now.
Hi Windyridge. Thank you for your helpful answer. I looked up dementia and will continue to educate myself on it. Yes, I avoid arguing and correcting her, and try my best to treat her with respect. And I will think of things to comfort her.. that's a good suggestion. I'm glad you got used to repeating yourself; that's something I'm in process of doing. I compliment her a lot, especially when she remembers something and it makes her laugh.

Through educating myself and understanding that she's in early to middle staged dementia, it'll be easier to accept the symptoms which will make it easier to remain pleasant... again thank you for your suggestion.

Wishing you and your dad happy moments and days together!
Randall, go to the top of the page here to the blue bar... click on SENIOR LIVING.... now click on Alzheimer's CARE.... scroll down, lot of excellent articles.

Sorry to say, from what I have read on many forums on this website, it will be very difficult to keep a positive attitude because you will find yourself working 3-shifts of caregiving for your Aunt. It would be impossible to be cheerful. That is why at nursing homes the staff works 8 hours and they go home, and the next shift arrives. You wouldn't be able to go home, you will need to work that next shift, and the midnight shift.

Curious, since it's an one bedroom apartment, do you have any private space for yourself?
Reading on this website: " Remind yourself, it is the disease, not her."

Randall, do get an accurate diagnosis from a geriatric neurologist/psychiatrist because the treatments, medications, and prognosis are different for each dementia, mental illness, or normal age-related decline. Who has diagnosed her?
Hello freqflyer, and thank you for your suggestion on what to read. I'm finding helpful articles there.

Yes, my aunt wanted me to take the bedroom which has also become my office. She prefers the living room sofa bed so she can watch TV until she sleeps and often wake earlier than I do to make her breakfast. This arrangement is great, so I work all day in the bedroom and can close my door for privacy when I want to. I also leave whenever I want or need to take care of business or take breaks. I'm determined on providing excellent self-care for myself, especially since she's spoken of hiring someone to see after when the time comes so I can have my life, as she puts it.

Aging and dementia are a part of life. And although I'm new at this, I believe that as long as I adopt the right attitudes and understandings, and am vigilant about self-care, that the both of us will have the best life that we can manage under the circumstances. I believe that I can learn a lot through caring for my Aunt and hope that she will feel all the better for my seeing after her.
Hi Sendme2help. That sounds like a great article to read, but I can't find it. Do you have a link or can you tell me the area where I can look for it? Also, when I realized she had dementia, that changed everything. I was able to put things into perspective by accepting that this was a disease that influences her, and was able to make better sense of the situation.

Yes, we are in the process of getting an accurate diagnosis for her. My aunt is newly moved here so this is also a new doctor. I had a private appointment with her (female doctor) who agreed that it's best she not live alone, but to honor it if she wants to. She asked us to come in together yesterday for our first appointment together, and we've begun the process of legal work and sharing medical information with me as her caregiver. At our next appointment, she'll be giving my Aunt a memory test which I hope will be the MMSE. I like her doctor who is bright and straightforward, and if she doesn't directly address dementia with my Aunt, then I'll schedule another separate appointment with her to have a candid talk.\

Thank you again, for your great suggestion and concern. I do appreciate it.
Wishing you very well!
Randall555. The advice to remember' It's the disease, not her' runs throughout the aging care website. Scroll to the top of this page, and enter: "It's the disease, not her" in the search bar.
On July 2, a question was asked, and answered: "My mother has Alzheimer's and it effects her temperament", asked by susang1956. You can also enter those words into the search bar. You seem so bright and eager for researching and making it work.
When it gets too much to handle for you, go to 'caregiver burnout' threads by entering those words into the search bar. You will do fine, and when it becomes too emotional, take a step back, remember, it's not you, it's the disease; it's not her talking to you that way, it's the disease.
Ah okay, gotcha, Sendme2help. I had searched for that particular article.

And thanks again for more helpful suggestions, I really do appreciate it! I started reading some articles, and will continue to self-educate.

Yes, I'm committed to self-care, so I do step back emotionally and create space when I need it. I'm committed to processing my emotions and finding the best way to handle things where I can remain healthy. She still does a great job of caring for herself in many ways which gives us both the time and space to adjust to our new living arrangement and to each other. So, things are very do-able right now.

Thanks again, for all your great suggestions! Wishing you continued peace and success with your caretaking and those you care for.
My sister really helped me with this one . . stop expecting anything. I would get very frustrated with my husband for not being able to do what I perceived as a simple thing. My expectation and his failure to meet them were making me unkind. When I was able to let that go - it took the pressure of me. It is hard and I still have to be careful. But not expecting anything . . really helps.

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