As caregivers coping with the spook-house corridors of the dementia patient’s mind, we often find ourselves saying the wrong thing: “Mom, how could you have possibly forgotten your own daughter’s birthday!”
Where do comments like this come from? Frustration? The subconscious desire to will our patient back to rational thought? When we slip and say something like that, the anxiety builds and often we are left with an explosion of a reaction that can take hours to recover from. If only we could have taken a deep breath, thought it through, and said something a little different.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Teepa Snow, MS, an occupational therapist specializing in dementia who has both an independent practice and clinical appointments with Duke University’s School of Nursing and UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine.