Independence – Caregivers must walk a fine line on the issue of independence. On the one hand, we want to help our person with dementia (PWD) and keep them safe. On the other hand, we don’t want to limit our PWD from doing things they can do for themselves. The matter of independence often boils down to two underlying issues caregivers need to monitor, safety and frustration.
Situation #1 – the PWD who has been getting lost frequently decides to walk to a store a few blocks away.
“You can’t walk to the store anymore. I’m tired of having to look for you when you get lost.” Nothing gets a person’s back up more than being told they can’t do what they think they can do, and what they want to do.
“I need to go to the store too. Let’s go this afternoon.” The caregiver may not be able to drop everything and go when the PWD wants to. Often, the suggestion that they’ll go together later will be enough to redirect the PWD for the moment. The caregiver may have to give that same answer many times until the trip is completed.
Situation #2 – the PWD is trying to use an electric can opener without success and is getting frustrated.
“Why can’t you do that? Just put the can like this. How hard was that?” The caregiver opens the can. The PWD is left feeling inadequate and frustrated.
“That can might be dented, let me hold it while you push the handle down. I’ve had this happen before.” The caregiver gave a logical explanation for the problem and assisted the PWD to finish the job.