Sunday, June 21, 2020

How many steps does it take?

We, I say we, because I, like you, never think about how many steps it takes to do anything. We as people with our full cognitive abilities always take for granted everything that we do. You are probably asking yourself, what is she talking about? Yes, the simple act of, eating, choosing what to eat, what to wear, what shoes match with which outfit? Taking a shower, making the bed, brushing our teeth, and all grooming in general, actually, everything that we do in our daily lives involves a series of steps taken to complete an action. For our loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer’s performing any of these actions can be quite daunting as they have lost that ability. The ability to figure out the order of things, this is why they get frustrated, anxious, nervous, or upset when they can't complete the simplest of tasks. Their brains can't recognize the process behind the action. Let's think about this, you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do?
Most of the time is going to the bathroom that involves, finding the bathroom, once in there, what do I do? Do you realize the many things that we use the bathroom for? Not just necessarily to relieve ourselves. Do you put your pants down, where do I relieve myself, in the sink? In the trash can?
Trust me it has happened many times, where the toilet is not used for the purpose that it was intended for. In the bathtub? Or shower? After that what do you do? Do I clean myself? With what? How? Hmm, those nice hand towels look like they might do the job. Let's say that they do recognize what the toilet paper is used for. Where do they put it / throw it away? Oh, my, I can tell you stories, horrible stories of where my mom's caregiver and my sister have found the soiled items or toilet paper. It would send chills down your spine. After figuring out the cleaning and disposing of the soiled toilet paper or item(s) that they have used to clean themselves with, that is assuming that they have. What do you think is next? That all depends on the individual and the stage that they are in the disease, I think that at this point you get the idea of what I'm trying to communicate to you. What we do in our daily lives with such ease and with no second thoughts about it. It can be quite daunting to a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

There is a myriad of steps to complete a simple action. That is why sometimes they have that look of being lost, they really are, literally! They can't figure things out, the process of what is next, how, and why? I want you to think about how many steps are involved in everything that you do. Let's start with brushing your teeth, really deconstruct the whole process. Write down the steps and you will realize how many there are. Now think about everything else we do in our lives. You see what I mean? Daunting! Once we truly understand this whole process, we can get creative in reinventing new ways to help them complete their daily activities.

Always keeping in mind the stage that the individual is in, and their abilities, please be mindful of their abilities never set them up for failure or create a stressful situation. Always keep realistic expectations. I really struggled with the title of this post. As you just read it's something a bit complicated to explain. But it is vital for family members and caregivers to really understand the step process of these tasks, always think to yourself how many steps does it take?

It's a bumpy road we need to:
Be prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.
I send you lots of positive virtual energy.

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