Dealing with Conflict
One of those silver linings that has impacted me has been learning how to deal with conflict in a loving way. As a child, I really was not exposed that often to familial conflict. So when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, I wasn’t totally prepared emotionally for the conflict that I would face. For instance, one of the toughest challenges was facing up to Mom (who has a legendary temper). She continues to attempt to control any situation even after her diagnosis, but I had to figure out how to lovingly counter her arguments.
For instance, Mom vehemently expressed that she wanted to leave the nursing home on a regular basis last fall. Taking a deep breath, I held her hand and explained to her that her lungs were bad and her memory was really bad. She listened to this news and tried to rationalize it away by describing it as “old age.” But I couldn’t let that explanation slide in this case. “Mom, do you realize that I come to visit you every day?” I asked her. “You do?” she responded. “Do you come when I’m asleep?” I quickly explained, “No, I come almost every day at this time, and we sit over in your favorite chairs and talk.” Sighing, Mom responded (in a less combative manner), “Oh…I guess my memory is worse than I thought it was.”
I also have had to deal with relatives and family friends who thought that Mom’s care should be different. Some thought that I should take charge immediately of the situation prior to her diagnosis; others now question why she’s currently in a nursing home. But I’ve come to the conclusion that this well-meaning conflict is truly meaningless. This decision to place Mom in a nursing home was based on a doctor’s appraisal of Mom’s condition, both mentally and physically. I can’t control where she lives at this point (since I don’t have the means to take care of her at home), but I can have an impact on the quality of her care. At times, issues have arisen with the nursing home, but I have tried to bring those to the attention of the nursing staff and the administrators in a timely and meaningful manner.
Conflict is a daily frustration in working with situations created because of a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. But instead of being a burden, these situations can prove to be a silver lining. They can make us stronger – and with thought, can make our responses more loving and caring about our loved one’s situation.
Published On: December 07, 2006