I’ve been browsing through a guide for caregivers of dementia patients, aptly entitled The 36-Hour Day. An acquaintance promised it would tell me “everything I need to know.” When I opened this medium-sized parcel from paperbackswap.com and noticed it was published by Johns Hopkins University, I was even more encouraged.
But I’m afraid it’s too little, too late; I’ve already weathered most of the storms forecasted in its pages. The fact is, my mother-in-law has recently graduated from tenderly touched to utterly un-hinged. Maybe I should swap this soft-cover in search of a sequel. I’ve already discovered first-hand the “Six R’s of Behavior Management”. In spades. I’ve done nothing but Restrict, Reassess, Reconsider, Re-channel, Reassure, and Review.
If I were writing a book, I’d add a few more R’s: Regression and Rebellion (what she does), Rivers-Ruckters-Ricters (what she says), and Relentless, Ridiculous Rascal (what she is).
In all of this, there are a few “R’s” conspicuously absent: Remembrance, Response, Reason, Repartee, Rehabilitation, and Remedy.
The best thing about this book is that it puts in writing some of what I’ve been told about health care and insurance, as well as confirms some of what I’ve encountered regarding daily care and behavior; it’s like an endorsement. It’s a little daunting, however, to see that Effie exhibits most of what’s described in this book. For Chapter 3, “Characteristic Problems of Dementia, she’s Seven for Seven; and she’s repeatedly pulled most of the stunts in Chapters 5 through 8.
I have found that the old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” proves true with a dementia patient. Just this morning, for instance, when she hysterically refused to be cleaned and fed, I did not frantically turn to Page 34: “When the confused person becomes agitated, immediately stop whatever is upsetting [her] and let [her] relax.”
But I’ll keep this tome handy, because there are a few items I could yet prepare myself for, and there are also lists of ideas and contacts we will need as we face — well, the future.
In the meantime, there are a couple of more “R’s” I would do well to Remember: Responsibility, and Reward.