I don’t remember if I have ever covered this topic, but even if I have, it must be time to discuss or repeat it. Over the past few months, I have heard people express a belief that someone with dementia is using the illness as an excuse for rude or irrational behavior and being manipulative. Honestly, this never occurred to me. Given that most, if not all, of those who are aware of their diagnosis go to great lengths to hide it from others until they feel they have to disclose for various reasons (job loss, giving up driving, decreasing social activities, and even awareness of personality changes), it is counterintuitive that those same people would then, at great personal risk, “use” that diagnosis to justify embarrassing behavior. It seems far more likely to me, that as a way to try to understand what happened themselves, the person with Alzheimer’s disease would say, “I have Alzheimer’s.” Meaning, if I did not have this illness, I would be in control of what I do and say — but since I do have Alzheimer’s, please understand (and accept) that I do not have control and may not even be aware of what I do or say. When caregivers watch the disease progress and see their loved ones become increasingly irritable and argumentative with them, but not necessarily with other people, they may believe it is personal and intentional and respond emotionally. I believe they create more stress for both themselves and the person with dementia (PWA), and that this is a losing battle. Early in the disease, caregivers and friends often disbelieve when we forget. They will go up against the individual or discount that person as being overly dramatic, manipulative, attention-seeking, and taking advantage of their illness. While there probably are situations where that is true, the vast majority of the time, it is not. Because the disease and personality changes progress at different rates with different types of dementing illnesses and some affect personality much more than others, someone can be rational at times and irrational at other times, but they don’t remember being irrational. When they are irrational, the best thing to do is to learn to either steer the subject away from the hot topic or to not take it personally, because quite honestly, it is not about you.
Read the original here:
Using Dementia as an Excuse?