Dementia Caregiving Blog 11- Emotions


A word coined by my wife, like weather forecast, which gives every one an advance pre-alert as to what the weather for that day would be like. Yes, even though it’s not 100% accurate,  it serves to prepare you for the worst weather as a figure of speech for Dementia Caregiving.

How I wish there is something like weather forecast. It would indicate mum’s temperament, and mood, for each day, like a ‘dementia emotion’ forecast  – in short, “Emoti4cast”.

Let me share the reason why I feel the need for a “Emoti4cast”:

Today seemed like any other day, but without a ‘Emoti4cast’ indicator, I wasn’t prepared for what lies ahead. Unknowingly, an emotional “thunderstorm” was already brewing when I visited mum at the nursing home.

Usually, she’s at peace and serene, whenever I visited her. But today, both me and my wife were caught off guard.

The moment mum saw both me and my wife, she was angry. Mum said that we didn’t care for her and had left her alone. She retorted by adding,  “I have so many children and yet none is here to accompany and care for me!”

Wow! At that point in time, I wished there is a EMoti4cast to pre-warn me for this encounter.

But then, how do we explain or correct our loved one’s unintentional mode of misconceptions?

As mum’s memory lapses are unpredictable, I wondered:

“how I wish the emotions of a loved one, wrestling with dementia everyday, can be charted, or even forecasted in a Emoti4cast  app!”

At that moment, I can see that my wife was very hurt.  She was trying to control her tears from falling when she heard my mum’s angry remarks.  I’m thankful to God for my wife’s response as she’s aware that it wasn’t intentional due to mum’s dementia.

I must say that it wasn’t easy for my wife to restrain her reactions. But yet, she managed to exercise patience and gentleness  during mum’s angry mode of misconceptions. It is indeed a significance of God’s love and compassion that my wife chose to exercise in responding to undeserved or unnecessary rebuke like these.

At that point in time, we decided to bring mum down to the garden. Our intention was to ‘quieten and soothe’ her  misconceived disappointments.

The garden is one place where we can find privacy, and quietness, to listen to mum’s grievances, if any. We find the ‘green’ environment helpful and therapeutic. Mum’s thoughts of unhappiness must have been circling in her mind that triggered the emotional outburst.

The nursing home staff had earlier affirmed that mum was feeling well that day. There wasn’t any incident that could’ve contributed to her outburst.

We were sad, angry, disappointed, and yet amused, by the way mum retorted and reasoned according to her limited cognitive capacity.

I really understood how my wife felt, at that point in time, and empathized with her as the hurt can really be unbearable. But then, how can we hold it against mum, in view of her dementia, as we knew it was unintentional?

We had always made it a point to visit mum, every day, unless there is prior engagement. Despite of that, it was rather disappointing that mum had the misconception about us. We knew it was unintentional that she had rebutted us. Especially when she said that we didn’t visit her and that I only cared for my wife.

These are the occasional mode of misconceptions that we had to manage, each time mum’s mindset rotated to this “negative mode”.

In today ‘s episode, we learned how to respond when mum’s thoughts are dwelling on the “unfilial children” mindset mode. It would only be appropriate for her children to pacify her and address the issues and not the spouse.

My wife, who is supposedly mum’s favorite, had to bear with her unintentional ‘rebuttal’. She tried very hard to pacify or explain to mum, each time she’s at this mode.

The second lesson is to be very patient and gentle, by responding with God’s love , peace and wisdom.

Even if we have to repeat our explanations, and assurances, we have to remain calm in listening to every of mum’s ‘grievances.

We realized it would not be helpful or therapeutic to react with justification, and defensiveness. Mum’s anger was triggered by misconceptions and it was unintentional. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. Hence, we have to continually give her assurances and logical explanations. We had to ensure that she’s pacified and at peace before we leave the nursing home.

It seems like a carousel going round and round not knowing where it would stop in mum’s mindset.

I know we have our human limitations. But God is molding us, in such a situation, so that we can bear ‘the fruits of the Holy Spirit’. As the saying goes, “more of Jesus and less of me “.

The third lesson I have learned is like the song sung by Cristy Lane, entitled, “One day at a time”. The singer is asking Jesus to show her the way. She’s learning to take one day at a time. She asked God to give her strength to do the things she has to do every day.

That’s exactly what we need to do —taking one day at a time. Asking Jesus to lead and guide us, especially in caring for mum’s emotional and mental well-being, everyday.

We are grateful to God that this emotional outburst only happens  occasionally. We feel that it’s challenging and can be emotionally drained at the end of the day.

I hope readers would be encouraged with my blog today.

It’s not a lonely journey even though everyone’s experience is unique. We believe God’s grace, love and compassion is always there for every caregivers.

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