This is another story about learning about words that work as they relate to taking care of the elderly who are cognitively impaired, which in my case is my mom. Mom lived at home with 24/7 care (word using ever so cautiously) from home health aides for 4 years (2006-2010) before moving to assisted living. I managed the human resources functions and was the liaison with the aides.

Throughout, I applied the practices and principles I use in my work doing business coaching and life coaching, especially as I learned to adapt communication skills to mom’s memory loss. Adapting in the moment or blink of an eye was essential, and I’m blessed that I had the opportunity to learn this in such a profound way.

As part of creating a sense of safety, early on mom and I co-created a ritual in which we engage in during daily conversations. After our ritual greeting, mom says, “Don’t ask me any questions about what I did today because I don’t remember.” I comply, and we talk about what I did.

After 2.5 years we switched care models, moving from the person mom hired (and her team) to using an agency. The agency identified candidates and conducted the initial screenings, after which I interviewed prospects by telephone and if possible in person. The turnover rate of the aides was high—15 in as many months.

At the beginning of 2010, we needed to hire another new person. I interviewed two candidates by phone and then in person. Both my brothers were able to participate in the in person interviews. Satisfied with our selection, the new person began work a few days later.

After our ritual greeting on the third day with the new aide, mom said, “Ask me some questions.”

What a dramatic departure. So, I went with a standard, “What did you have for dinner?” She answered with, “I don’t remember. Ask me more questions.” I continued. “How many symphonies did Mozart (her favorite composer) write?” She gave the correct number.

By then I was sensing she wanted to communicate something important, I asked, “Do you want me to ask you questions to which you can answer yes or no?”
“Yes,” she said. I asked, “Is this about the new aide.”
Again she said, “Yes.”
“Is she treating you kindly?” I asked.
“No,” was mom’s response.

The next day from the staff at the day program mom attends I learned about the aide’s abusive treatment of my mom. With her cognitive impairment and memory loss mom quickly and creatively established a communication system in which the only words that worked were yes and no.

Author's Bio: 

Isn't it time to be heard? To get what you want? To connect? To get in tune with your own voice? To have lasting business and personal relationships? To move from struggling to living the big easy?

Get your FREE copy of “Simple Secrets to Reset Your Mindset” and learn more about Renée Barnow, Mindset Reset Expert, also known as the Agent of Calm ~