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Detached Caring, Part 2

Today’s offering is a continuation of excerpts from Susan McCurry’s book, When A Family Member Has Dementia.

As I’ve mentioned, I would have benefited greatly from just being aware of even a fraction of one of her chapters. The full details of the book are listed at the end of this blog.

Susan McCurry writes:

People who are very much caught up in their own feelings and reactions often have less power to be effective.  Step back and look at the situation with a fresh perspective.  We learn to rely increasingly on ways of communication with our loved one that to not require reasonable discussion or persuasion.  There are some things that you will just have to need to stop asking or telling your loved one; some decisions that they can no longer help you make. 

This is a painful realization not only for spouses, who are accustomed to sharing every important life event and decision, but also for adult children, siblings, or other relatives and friends who much accept that a much-admired and competent individual is no longer able to take charge of their own life. 

Family caregivers sometimes feel that they are being dishonest or disrespectful by censoring what they say to their loves ones.  An alternative viewpoint is that you are graciously accommodating your loved one’s very real limitations, regardless of whether he or she is aware of them.  You are being polite.

On that last note, Susan saying “censoring” is a great alternative to what I always refer to as “compassionate misinformation.” It IS loving and polite to censor, re-word with kindness, fib, or anything that will reach your loved one and have them hear what you are saying and even do what you ask.

What Is True For Me: I learned to button it as far as interrupting Mom and how I felt about a situation.  I allowed Mom to be and feel heard.  This took me years to get because I was frustrated, impatient, hurried, out of time, etc.

I enlisted “censoring,” or “compassionate misinformation,” or in my case, a lot of the time, humor to make my suggestion, or point, after Mom had said her peace, and I understood what she was saying.  No matter what the topic of argument was, I’d be somewhat giggling when I responded with, “Jeepers, are you finished?  Can I call CNN and make this breaking news, or would The Swedish Chef from Sesame Street take your call?”  (She loves CNN and The Swedish Chef is from childhood).  By my tone, she’d know right away I was saying it in complete fun and lightening the atmosphere.  It snapped her out of her stressful state and we moved on.

In the arena of dementia and caregiving there are many different ways to handle a situation and why I get an idea, tweak it and make it my own.  Not everything works for everyone.  It is why I read, watch different programs, movies, and documentaries – and not all of what I watch has to do with dementia.  There’s a lot to learn from every resource.  Call me the “Lifer Student.”

Try and keep in mind “Listen with respect, comfort and redirect.”  As you know by now, my go-to is humor and fortunately, Mom responds to mine. My hope is that you always find something of value in what I offer daily to help you through your day.

*This book, When A Family Member Has Dementia, by Susan McCurry, can be found in the Resource section of this Website, or you can go to

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