Do Not Ask Me To Remember (1)

Do Not Ask Me To Remember

As busy adults, we tend to forget things. Perhaps it’s an appointment, where we parked our car, or why we just walked from the living room into the kitchen. Although this might be annoying, we’re usually able to laugh at ourselves, retrace our steps, and get back on track. The same can’t be said for a person with dementia; the memory loss in dementia is caused by physical changes. The parts of the brain that record and store new information become damaged, so the person is unable to hold the memory of what they’ve said, asked, or done and any response they’ve received.

As the disease progresses, memory loss and changes in personality can sometimes lead the individual to become suspicious and to misperceive certain events or situations. It’s not unusual for a family member, friend, or caregiver to be accused of theft (when your loved one can’t locate possessions), withholding information (because they have forgotten a planned activity or a daily routine), or other offenses. Such circumstances can cause caregivers to feel hurt or guilty and lead to difficulty maintaining an even temper. How can you cope?

First, try not to take it personally. It’s important to be aware that the individual’s poor memory is something they can’t help. If there’s a glitch in their memory, they may try to fill in that faulty memory with a delusion that makes sense to them. It’s perfectly normal for a caregiver to become distressed when you see a loved one experiencing suspicion, paranoia, or feelings of betrayal when you know that you’re doing your best.

Second, don’t argue or try to convince. When a loved one affected by dementia continuously complains that you’re not telling them anything, that they never know what’s going on, or that they feel tricked or betrayed, it’s more than just frustrating. Sometimes the best response is to say, “Oh, I’m sorry; I must’ve forgotten to mention (a particular activity or event).” Or, if an item goes missing, offer to help locate it.

Finally, when you’re at your wit’s end, it might help to take a deep breath, relax and take in the words of this beautiful poem called “Do Not Ask Me to Remember – An Alzheimer’s Poem,” by Owen Darnel.

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.

This article by Ava M. Stinnett reminds us of the many challenges people with dementia live with every day. During the difficult moments, think back to this poem.

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