Can a patient's negative attitude speed up the progression of Alzheimer's?

Justkeepswimming-li,ny asked...

My mother is just on the verge of early severe Alzheimer's. I have been telling her "theraputic" lies to keep her calm. One of them is that her parents are out and will be back soon to pick her up. Asking where her mother or parents are is usually the first thing she asks when she gets up. For the past few days, when I tell her they will be back soon, she gets withdrawn and refuses to get up. I used to be able to get her past her feelings of abandonment, but it is becoming more difficult. I am afraid that her feelings of withdrawal, abandonment, not being worthy will send her more quickly into the last stage. I know this is not my original question, but what can I do to help her?

Expert Answer

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

Yes, a patient's negative attitude can speed up the progression of Alzheimer's. However, it seems your mother is at a stage where she is declining regardless of your attempts to calm her with therapeutic lying; which, incidentally, is a good approach.

Experiment with different stories. Next time, explain that her parents didn't want to wake her while she was resting. They went out for breakfast and asked that when she got up she'd have her breakfast before they returned home. This approach will help her feel cared for and loved. You may even get her motivated cooperation!

For more ideas on communicating with your mother, read: How to Talk to an Elder with Dementia Using Validation Therapy, Redirection & Other Techniques