Accepting the New Reality

Accepting the new reality will help to preserve harmony in relationships affected by dementia.

Embracing the New Reality: Navigating Dementia with Harmony

Mrs. Duchesne, who is in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, often exhibits controlling behaviors, insisting on doing things she perhaps should not, like loading the dishwasher.

Her husband, Mr. Duchesne, frequently attempts to intervene, but she remains firm, declaring, “Yes, I can load the dishwasher.” This pattern of behavior deeply frustrates him, leaving him stressed and frequently irritable.

After 54 years of marriage, it was clear they both needed support. Their relationship was suffering under the strain.

Montessori Alzheimer’s training became their invaluable resource.

They sought help from a coach skilled in the Montessori method adapted for cognitive impairments. The coach quickly recognized that a shift in approach was crucial to alleviate the tension.

The coach explained that Mrs. Duchesne’s need for control stemmed from her subconscious awareness of her diminishing autonomy.

For instance, Mrs. Duchesne is deeply attached to their two adult children, who live far away. She often sets extra places at the dinner table for them and converses with them as if they were present, feeling their presence vividly.

Accepting this as her reality was crucial.

Yet, Mr. Duchesne was still in denial, often reminding her that the children were not actually there, which only exacerbated the situation. This misunderstanding highlighted where much of the stress and irritability originated.

The coach advised Mr. Duchesne to “Let her do it and join in the conversation yourself,” guiding him to embrace her reality.

So, when Mrs. Duchesne next spoke to the children at the table, Mr. Duchesne engaged her by asking about past family activities and sharing cherished memories.

This approach acknowledged that disruptive behaviors often stem from unmet needs. Reflecting on the good old days, when the children were young and recalling the endearing things they did, created a heartwarming dinner experience.

The next time Mr. Duchesne met with the coach, his first words were, “WOW.”

He was amazed by the positive transformation; the evening had gone remarkably well, and the strategy had “worked like a charm.”

In summary, Mrs. Duchesne was expressing her maternal instincts and for her, including the children in daily activities and conversations was essential. As long as her husband resisted this reality, discord was inevitable.

Accepting her reality not only reduced stress but also profoundly enhanced her emotional well-being.


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*not their real name