As spring takes hold of our seasons, there is a renewed interest in nesting. Whether birds, or humans—spring cleaning becomes the norm. Clothing is sorted; windows opened; décor refreshed. Things no longer useful pitched, new things purchased for a fresh season. While caring for someone with dementia, this process can be quite upsetting. Perhaps you have already experienced the angst of spring cleaning. Maybe your loved one has entered the stage where he becomes agitated when things are moved. When he is looking for items, there is an undertone of suspicion or even outright accusation. Perhaps your loved one has nests of their own—unruly gathering of assorted items that appear to be rubbish. When you attempt clean-up, you realize that your loved one values this nest. He is greatly agitated at your brazen disregard for his belongings.
This is a fairly normal response in Alzheimer’s world. Your loved one is attempting to hang onto the details of her life. His nest of personal belongings are tangibles that he can maintain even as his memories slip out of grasp. Though random and appearing useless, it is these belongings that he can control. His anger or anxiety over your clean-up are a portion of the anger or anxiety he has toward his dementia.
While living with dementia, your spring cleaning must adapt. Your loved one’s need for stability and routine requires a shift. Spring cleaning now becomes an internal process. Now is the time to take that nesting energy and apply it to new ideas instead of new decor. Perhaps the new idea is educating yourself on the latest techniques for caregiver stress. Arden Courts has spent over twenty years educating caregivers in the latest research on choosing their battles, provisioning for the future and capitalizing on what remains as the brain changes.
As you shake off winter, consider investing some time checking out the Arden Courts’ experience.
By-line: Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s. Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia.