Helping Hands

How do you get a nurse through the door to help someone who refuses to accept help?

If you’ve read my Blog, you know that getting “outside” help for my elderly mum who has Alzheimer’s dementia has been all but impossible.

The truth has been that unless we were prepared to force her into higher care, it has been pretty much impossible!

A few months ago, we found ourselves in the position of having to take mum for emergency medical treatment – in fact, three times in as many weeks.

The reason was that she was not able to administer a steroid cream daily without fail, and the associated pain had become extreme.

We tried to help her to stay on track with the treatment, but with her failing memory, there was no way for us to succeed, so we decided it was time to get some additional help - in this case a home care nurse coming daily to administer the treatment.

Knowing that mum was likely to simply shut the door and say go away, it has gone amazingly well!

And there’s a secret that I want to share with you – perhaps it will help you too if you are faced with a similar problem of helping, perhaps particularly an elderly loved one, who is resistant to accepting the help he or she needs.

My mother turns 92 next month - she was born into a generation where

doctors had a God-like status.

The truth of course is that when the sulfanilamides came into being, doctors were in a position to cure things that people had previously died from.

Something that for us is nothing, for example an abscess on a tooth, in those days was a potential killer, so no wonder they attracted this God-like reverence.

And for my mum, when in her early teens, she got pneumonia, and it was only that the doctor was able to prescribe a sulfanilamide that she survived.

The ultimate result is that she listens to doctors and has 100% faith in their ability to make the right call.

When we were faced with the conundrum of how to engineer not just one, but potentially numerous strangers, through the door, we thought perhaps her faith in the medical profession was the key.

With the help of the Specialist, the message to my mum was that the nurse’s visits were an integral part of the treatment - for a tricky spot to get to physically - not because she was incompetent, and that he expected his instructions to be carried out.

For us, it has meant a sound backstop, and the “personal” stuff being taken out of the equation.

For mum, I think it has meant being able to just accept the treatment, no questions asked (well, almost......)

We’re now several months along the track.

The skin condition is squared away, and the ongoing management at this stage is 2 visits a week from the nurses.

Not only have we solved this particular problem, we now have other people involved to help, and mum is used to the idea of others helping.

It takes me back to a Blog I did a while ago – the words we us are just so powerful.

How we present something to someone with dementia is key not just to a successful outcome, but also to helping them to retain their dignity at a time when this can be SO deeply compromised.

If you think my Blog could help someone, please share it.

If you are helping someone with dementia to live independently, or know someone else who is, please check out our MemBo Noticeboard assistive technology for people with dementia or email me

© Anne-Louise Underwood, 2019

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