This morning on Your Caregiving Journey, Dr. Benjamin Mast joined me a for a terrific discussion. Dr. Mast is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and Associate Clinical Professor in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville (Kentucky). You can listen to our show via the player at the bottom of the post.
The inspiration for today’s show was a blog post written by G-J last month. In her post, she wrote:
‘I got lost twice on the way home from Boy Scouts.’
‘Did you tell me about this before?’
Each time Steve says something like this, I do the same thing. I make excuses. I know my husband has a problem, but frankly, it’s still pretty easy to forget or ignore.
I asked Dr. Mast to help us find the answer to these questions: What’s a sign of a bad day? What’s an indication of a decline? How do you respond to your caree when they share an upset, like getting lost?
We all will have bad days because of a bad night’s sleep, an argument with a family member or a bit of bad luck. On a bad day, we may forget our way or space out during a conversation. With your caree, you’re looking at whether an upset is an isolated incident (a bad day) or part of a pattern.
Dr. Mast also explained his perspective on your role as a family caregiver: You’re responsible for ensuring your caree’s safety. You’re also responsible for living life. You’ll want to be aware of issues that could create a safety concern. You also want to focus on your relationship with your caree, your enjoyed activities, your shared life. In essence, the diagnosis becomes a part your life. It’s not your life.
I also asked Dr. Mast when a concern means it’s time to call the doctor. He suggested calling to speak with a nurse in the doctor’s office with any concern you may have. (You also can call the Alzheimer’s Association hot line when you’re having a bad day. The toll-free number, manned 24/7, is 800-272-3900.) You’ll always want to call when your caree experiences a rapid and dramatic change.
Finally, Dr. Mast offered the words you can use when your caree describes an upset. Talk about what happened, he suggested, and say, “This must have been frightening for you. Are you okay?” Then, at a later time, talk about any solutions which may be helpful for any future upsets.
Dr. Mast is happy to answer any questions you may have about today’s show. You can post your questions in our comments section, below. And, Dr. Mast will join me for another show on Wednesday, October 5, at 11 a.m. ET. We’ll talk about what’s enough in terms of tests and procedures for your caree.
(You can follow Dr. Mast on Twitter: @benjaminmast1)
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