Instructions Not Needed

I was talking with my daughter and remembering how I handled a trip with E a while ago. It involved a hotel stay….

We had arrived in our hotel after a long day of packing up her room for the move to her new home and then driving 6 hours. Check in had taken a while and by the time we got to our room, E was confused and very tired. As she looked around the room clearly lost she asked, “so… uhm… hmmmm…… what…. what is the plan now?”

“Well, I’m not sure what you’re going to do, but I am going to take off my shoes, put on my pajamas, brush my teeth then go to bed. You’re welcome to do the same. We don’t have any place else to go tonight; we are staying in this room,” I answered sweetly.

“That sounds great!” she said with relief.

“Your PJs are right there on the bed. Your toiletries are in the bathroom. You can go first. I can wait. I’ll get your night meds ready while you’re in the bathroom,” I said sweetly while pointing to her things and directing her towards the bathroom.

I knew she was overwhelmed with the events of the day. Instructing her what to do as if she were a child would have been demeaning to her. I knew I could model for her what to do rather than giving instructions.

So instead of giving her instructions regarding what she should do, I told her what I was going to and invited her to do the same.

This technique works well with some dementia patients. If you have techniques you’ve found work, please share them in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Instructions Not Needed

  1. Such a compassionate strategy. I’m
    acquainted with someone whose mother’s Alzheimer’s is advancing, and she insists on trying to convince or persuade her mother of the “truth.” I can only imagine how difficult it is to navigate those waters, but I do know that argument isn’t benefitting either of them. I’ll relay your post to her. Or try to anyway. Thank you for this timely story.


  2. This is a wonderful approach. Another good one is to avoid arguing and contradiction at all costs. Agree and redirect, but never say, “No, you’re wrong, you’ve forgotten. . . .”

    It just doesn’t work.


Please tell me what you think about this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s