Courage to Adapt

By Sally Branson

I just wanted to communicate how much Dementia Alliance means to me and our family. With Brian having Alzheimer’s and/or FTD at the age of 51 and now he is 54,  we have seen a lot of changes in him pretty rapidly.  I have twin boys that are 16 so they are seeing all this too.

As a background, I had been struggling with raising my voice and being easily aggravated. One day he and I were making the bed together. I asked him to get the white pillow and he had no idea what I was talking about and then I cued him still to no avail. It just upset me so that in a harsh tone I said “do you not know what a pillow is?” I felt like I was getting towards the end of my rope with all of this.

I was feeling very overwhelmed when Dementia Navigator, DeeDee Harris suggested/talked me into going to the Teepa Snow Caregiver conference. I really didn’t think I could swing it but all his care for that day fell into place so I was able to go. I really got a lot of much needed information from the conference as I took notes on two sides of my paper. A lot of what she discussed was about bathroom/toilet training someone with this disease. I was not at that stage yet with my husband; however, I listened intently. Her conference was on February 28, 2020.

By Sunday, March 1, my husband came to me and said he had an accident which was peeing and pooping in his pants. I was very calm (which is very unlike me) but after the conference it kind of reset my mind and got me in a better place. So as I approached him I said it’s OK… Just come upstairs and we will take a shower and clean you off. He was about to cry but I was very upbeat and told him it was no big deal and to just think of it as getting his shower ahead of time (at 3 PM versus 7 PM). He was OK with that so we got him all showered off.

I just felt like I was so calm and by me being calm in the situation he was calm and not upset. The old me (a week before the Teepa conference) would have been very upset, very irrational and very verbal. But I really feel like this conference as I said earlier “reset” my mind and gave me a new sense of he’s not doing it on purpose and how can I make him feel the most comfortable and this is just because he has dementia not because he’s trying to do this to himself or me. One big note I took away from the conference was “be a friend not as a boss”.

Thank you again for kindly nudging me to go to that conference. Things like that and also the other conference where it showed us what it was like to have dementia really helped me have empathy and regroup my thoughts and response towards him. We definitely need more of these conferences throughout the year. I believe it will really make a difference to all caretakers.

I can’t THANK YOU enough, you and your staff!!! Without Dementia Alliance I am not sure where I would be right now. Take care and keep doing what you’re doing!