I had often found that the point at which my mother went off the rails was when she couldn’t make reality line up with what was inside her brain. Perhaps part of her believed if it didn’t line up, that implied she was crazy. But she couldn’t be crazy, so someone had to be wrong.

I think it was the brain’s defense mechanism—something to comfort her that all was well, that she was safe and sound, and nothing was out of place.

As my mother’s caregiver, I walked a very fine line—sort of like performing intricate brain surgery while balancing on a tightwire. How the hell could I convince her to let me remove the shin guards she’d already installed and do her leg treatment when her reality was that it had already been done?

Talk about some tricky surgery skills required.

I had to somehow slice away the erroneous belief without injuring the patient and sending her into a level five state. And I must do it with kindness, often while she was shrieking in protest over an imaginary slight of some kind.

Moral of the story…Dementia is a big pile of crap on a stick!

Nothing is ever easy with this disease. Even on those days when they remember the process and who you are, they remember some other detail in the wonkiest way ever. And they are often poised on the edge of an emotional maelstrom.

And before you know the landmine is even there on the ground in front of you, your foot is on it and…KABOOM! I can’t tell you how often her shriek of protest made me jump because it came out of nowhere, with not a single hint of warning. At least a bomb starts to tick when you trigger it—well, they do in the movies.

I often resorted to bribery, negotiation, or trading skills. If you want a junkyard dog to give up a bone, you give it a pork chop. It goes back to the old WIIFM school of management. What’s In It For Me?

Your job is to find ways to help your person win…to understand what is in it for them if they calm down and play along or allow you to repeat a leg treatment you have seemingly already done.

There is more than one way to slay a damn dragon. Always carry dragon treats.

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