My husband, who has Alzheimer’s, doesn’t like me telling him what to do … How can I improve this?
No matter what, you should always try to make him feel like an equal, and like an adult. Include him any way you can in the goings-on of the day. For example, if you need to pay a stack of bills, you can ask him to pick out one that you should pay first. Give him a choice of two. He could also stay involved by stuffing envelopes or putting stamps on envelopes. Then, you can make a trip to the post office part of the routine. The key is you keep him involved, and he’s comfortable with his involvement. Be sure to talk with him. Nod and don’t argue when he talks. Let him answer questions and don’t worry about whether he’s really right or not. Use your sense of humor. If things don’t go precisely as planned, laugh together. By the same token choose your battles. If you must remain firm about something, try to figure out if it really matters if chore “X” gets done. If he doesn’t want to get dressed, is it hurting anyone? Again, treat him with respect and dignity, and like an adult. You can do this by acknowledging his feelings of frustration and loss. Above all, he needs to know you care. Think about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. You wake up one morning and many simple things you could do yesterday you now can’t do. You might not know where you are in your own (long-time) home, or you might not remember how to get dressed, to go to the restroom or how to set the table. Remember to treat this as a person with a disease, not as a “diseased person.” It is an admittedly difficult situation for both of you. Your loved one needs help because he is no longer independent. This means you lose some independence, too. Give yourself frequent breaks. This is obviously a very hard situation. When things get really tough — and face it, there will be those times — take a step back, inhale deeply and then move forward with resolve and patience. Take each moment and each day one at a time. For more information, please click here to download our FREE “Indispensable Alzheimer’s Kit.”