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Grab a Tool Belt

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite go-to books by Susan McCurry.  Had I had these suggestions when I first began caring for Mom, I would have had a lot less tears.  Frankly, I did everything “wrong,” i.e., I argued, debated, tried to reason because “I was right, dammit!  And it HAD to be THIS way!”  Oy.  As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better you do better.”  So I did better as the months passed.  I learned more, read more, listened more, blah bleh blah.

This excerpt will help you better understand the dynamic of how to handle your loved one with respect to “arguing,” but honestly, it’s good information in any scenario. 

Susan McCurry writes:

It takes practice to see the big picture and recognize when something you are doing is not working and a new plan is needed.  Arguing does not work.  Even when you are right, and do not believe you should have to change, you need to give it up.  In the long run, it will make your life easier.  

Effective communication with your loved one without arguing, reasoning, or debating, is the foundation for all problem-solving strategies in dementia care.  No matter how good your ideas are, if you have not given up arguing, reasoning, or debating, you will continue to get stuck.  There are several principals underlying effective communication that are particularly useful for caregivers who want to stop arguing but just do not know how. 

Give them a try!  No matter how awkward they feel in the beginning, with time and practice these strategies become automatic and will greatly enrich your relationship with your loved one who has dementia, AND give you a bit less stress. 

TOOL #1:  Caring Detachment

The first secret to being able to give up arguing is detachment.  Detachment is not emotional indifference or pretense that nothing is the matter when, in fact, you are seething or frantically worried inside.  Rather, it is a very loving action of genuinely accepting the other person as he/she is – NOT as you want them to be. 

Detachment is the ability to step back and see the forest, not just the trees.  It is the ability to respond to the persons dementia that is causing the problem, not the person themselves.  If you can appreciate the reality that your loved one has a brain disease that is affecting their ability to think, react, understand the world as you do, you will be halfway to taking their behavior less personally, and being better able to respond in new more effective ways. 

I will continue this helpful Chapter in my next blog.  I hope you can take this information in, and chew it like a great ‘ol piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum.

*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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