karen

Karen Cochran Beaulieu

Dear Karen,

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a scene in a restaurant that still bothers me. Two guys were having lunch with their elderly mother. She proudly held the bill and seemed pleased and special to be treating her sons to their meal. It took her a while to locate her credit card and appeared to be a struggle for her to add the tip. Rather than offering help, one of the sons impatiently grabbed the receipt from her hand and said loudly with a rather disgusted tone, ”Oh just give me that, I’ll do it!” A dark cloud passed over the mother’s face, and it reflected shame and humiliation. What can be done to make people more sensitive to those declining in age and mind?

 

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your caring question. Unfortunately, many people ignore the signs of memory loss and react to their person’s changes with annoyance rather than sensitivity.

Those constantly made to feel too slow, too stupid and too clumsy live in a world of sadness. Those with mental decline have no control over their changes and are doing the best they can. 

Although difficult, it is our job, as family and friends, to become aware of our loved one’s changes and then intentionally make changes in ourselves. We must change because they cannot. Acceptance of this reality is crucial for those in this situation.

 

Dear Karen,

A friend that works in a memory care facility told me that loss of dignity is a significant problem for those experiencing loss of memory. My grandmother has early stage dementia. Are there specific things that can be done to protect her dignity? 

 

Dear Reader, 

According to Merriam-Webster, dignity is defined as “the quality or state of being worthy, honored or esteemed.” When dignity is stripped away, a person’s sense of self is lost. 

Caregivers have the power to influence how a person regards himself or herself. Constant negative responses and poor quality of interaction are both contributors to the loss of dignity. When a person realizes they no longer have control of their destiny, unwanted verbal and physical behaviors are also exhibited. 

Allow your grandmother to make decisions and show respect for her choices of clothing, music and activities. Listen to her stories, spend quality time together and choose to make her feel valued and loved. Obviously, concern and care for medical conditions are needed, but a nurtured soul is especially important for those with cognitive deficits.

 

Share your questions, challenges and successes:

 

momentsthatmatterkcb@gmail.com. Your submission may be published; however, all submissions will be answered. Karen Cochran Beaulieu, a resident of Sumter County, is the author of the book, “Moments that Matter; a roadmap for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.”