Caregiving

Everyday tips to make your life less stressful and more enjoyable as a caregiver.

How I Get My Mom to Bed

How I Get My Mom to Bed

by KATHLEEN BROWN

Personal tips, tricks, strategies and weapons in the battle of the bedtime: one caregiver’s thoughtful, patient, inside secrets.

As morning problems have to do with getting started, the evening challenge is to wind up the day and get some sleep. Fatigue adds stress in any situation. In an Alzheimer’s household, fatigue can make evenings seem unbearably long.

I concentrate on five strategies to get us all unstuck and tucked in:

  1. Don’t argue with Mom. Agree with her version of reality.
  2. Use actions, not words, to calm her anxieties.
  3. If she refuses to go to bed, be ready to back off and try again.
  4. Old behaviors and routines can help Mom cooperate.
  5. Talk works well as a distraction when I’m maneuvering Mom in a direction she doesn’t want to go.

These strategies take time, but they work.

Arguing with Mom, or any Alzheimer’s patient, is worse than pointless. Trying to convince her of what is clear and reasonable to me only increases her frustration and confusion.

So when she says she’s afraid a fire might destroy the house during the night, I do not try to convince her that the house is safe. Instead, I agree that a fire in the night would be a problem. Then…

…I take action. Instead of relying on words to convince her the house is safe, I walk through it, every room, “checking it.”

Mom sees that I take her fear seriously. Watching me act on her reality helps her accept my words.

Waiting a few minutes gives Mom time to forget my earlier request.

If Mom refuses my first suggestion of bedtime, I have two choices. I can use physical strength to make her cooperate, or I can back off and try again later.

I always do the latter. For one thing, trying to force Mom to do something would likely get one or both of us hurt. And Mom still wouldn’t be in bed.

Waiting a few minutes gives Mom time to forget my earlier request and her earlier refusal. I ask her again, as if for the first time. Sometimes she says yes in relatively short order.

But if not, I don’t ask any more. I move on to the next strategy. …


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