Last weekend I went to a Death Cafe gathering in my town and someone said this really profound thing that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.
First off, in case you were wondering what the Death Cafe is, their stated objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.
During the meeting, I brought up my mother's condition and how it is really difficult to watch her slip away and be unable to turn to her as a mother. In response, the Facilitator of the Death Cafe introduced the following concept:
When it comes to caring for someone with dementia, it is important to understand that they are no longer living in your world. They are experiencing social cognitive, functional and mood changes that they don't even understand.
As the disease progresses, it is crucial to react with care and compassion. If they cannot meet you in your reality, then you can meet them in theirs.
People often get really irritated and flustered when their loved one doesn't act in the way they feel they should. The more you try and correct them, the more agitated they become.
Don't take it personally. It is not them, it is the disease.
For more information about the benefits of staying in their reality, visit The Upside of Aging blog.