Dr. Richard Taylor who lives with dementia was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. “Going under” was an experience that taught him a lot, most importantly, to never repeat the experience.
Dr. Richard Taylor’s TIPS on How to keep from going under forever
- Never-ever, send someone living with the symptoms of dementia to the hospital by themselves – don’t trust first responders to know anything about dementia.
- Never-ever, leave anyone living with the symptoms of dementia alone in the hospital.
- Speak with your local first responders, emergency room staff, nursing staff about what it is like to live with the symptoms of dementia.
- Bring 7 copies of [your loved one’s] current drug list with you to the hospital. Give one to the head nurse of each nursing shift (including weekends), ER head nurse, and any and every doctor who will take the time to read it. Include a brief summary of the major disabilities [your loved one is] living with growing out of [his/her] dementia. Bring 3 copies of your medical power of attorney and keep one with you all the time you are in the hospital or a doctor’s office.
- Place this nametag on your care recipient, the bed, the wall of the room, the door, and the bathroom door:
Hello, I am [name] and I am living with the symptoms and disabilities of dementia. I require your best empathetic listening skills and a little bit more of your time.
- Place this on the bathroom door in [your loved one’s] room:
Please don’t bother asking me what day it is, who is the president. I need to live in and understand what has happened, is happening, and will happen to me.
- Ask me to repeat what you just told me.
- Always introduce yourself and explain why you are here and what you are going to do to me.
- Pretend I’m your favorite grandfather/grandmother. Ask me about family in the room, my grandchildren, my friends and hobbies, what I accomplished today. What I will do tomorrow.
Please, please help me stay in and understand this moment and today.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
For more information about Dr. Richard Taylor and Alzheimer’s insights “from the inside out,” please visit his website at Richard Taylor PhD and sign up for his monthly newsletter for up-to-the-month information and candid commentary about Alzheimer’s disease.
TIPS edited in brackets to read from the caregiver’s point of view. (TCV Ed.)