Finding Joy in Little White Lies

There’s a book I want to tell you about.

It’s called “Creating Moments of Joy” by Jolene Brackey and it has completely changed the way I communicate with my mom.

I love this book so much, I think it should be required reading for anyone who interacts with an Alzheimer’s sufferer.

It’s a book about meeting the person with Alzheimer’s WHERE THEY ARE AT in order to avoid emotional pain and confusion.

It’s also an instruction book on how to tell little white lies.

For example, when my mom asks “When is Gary coming to get me?”  A not so good answer might be, “He isn’t coming to get you because you live here now.”  This answer is frightening and confusing.  The better answer might be, “Won’t you stay for dinner and Gary can get you later? I just love spending time with you!”

This works better because THERE IS NO SHORT TERM MEMORY!  Zero!  Zip!   So the only goal of the caregiver is to help the person with Alzheimer’s feel comfortable and safe — IN THAT MOMENT.

It’s okay to lie when it’s the kindest thing to do.

My mom will eventually think she is three years old and will start asking for her mom — which breaks my heart : (   But can you imagine my mom’s reaction if a caregiver replies, “Ruth, your mom died a long time ago.”  What if my mom asks this question every day?  Or ten times a day?!  A better answer might be, “Your mom is at the grocery store and she’ll be back soon.”  Comforting relief in that moment!

While this may seem almost cruel.  IT’S NOT.  We are joining them in their reality and coming up with feasible explanations in order to avoid emotional stress.  It’s a moment in time that will be gone in 20 seconds, and all that will be left is the feelings that were created.  Do we want good feelings or bad?  Comfort or fear?

The author covers many other topics to help create moments of joy for the Alzheimer’s sufferer, including giving compliments.    Saying you’re so smart, creative, or strong for example, are wonderful boosts.  My mom beamed when I told her how beautiful she was.

And she loved hearing me say, “So many people love you!”  Now, that was the truth.

Look at her! So sweet and innocent waiting for her piece of cake. I hope nobody ever makes her feel sad or scared. Just comfort and love please. Along with a fib or two.

Go to Creating Moments of Joy to order this book and learn more about communicating with your loved one and how to “discover their greatness.”

 

 

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Comments

  1. Lynda Hall says:

    Wish I had this when Evadelle was here. I may just order a copy – hopefully I won’t need it, but I have a neighbor who is going through this with her mother. Hope you are doing well. I’m sure your Mom is. when she was here it was an adventure for her. She never asked where she was or when she was going home. It’s you and your Dad we are concerned for.

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Lynda,

      Yes, I can’t say enough about this book! I left a copy with my mom’s new caregiver and practically begged her to read it. I hope she shares with the staff as well. This concept is a total game changer and there’s much more to learn in this book than what I mentioned. I think mom is doing well. I especially enjoyed reading a comment from a friend named Betty LaMoore– I think it’s under “This was NOT the Plan.”

      Dad and I are fine. Marilyn is fine too. It’s John that’s having the hardest time with it. But, this will probably get a bit easier as time goes.

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