Treading on eggshells?

I read lots about people who feel they are treading on eggshells around their loved one when he/she has dementia and think that maybe this is another example of when we should be looking at the illness differently.  At the beginning of all of this I never quite knew what was going to set Ash off.  I would say or do something and he would almost immediately start to get cross with me or become anxious and I was at a loss to know why.  I would ask and either he couldn't tell me or the reason he gave made no sense.  Over the months I've gradually come to realise that he is only like this if something doesn't make sense to him, if I'm trying to rush him, if I give him more than one instruction at once or if I overload him.  If I keep instructions simple, don't ask questions, stay calm and keep conversation to a minimum then he's ok.  I've also realised that most conversation is unnecessary.  A couple of weeks ago we were at the visitor centre at our local nature reserve.  We sat in easy silence while we watched the birds outside the window, used binoculars to look further afield or just sat and soaked in the view.  A couple sat next to us with the woman chattering at her partner incessantly.  He either didn't answer or grunted in reply but it was obvious he would have been perfectly happy to join us in our silence.  She however persisted and the thing is I would guess that there was nothing in what she said that he needed to know.   She wasn't pointing out birds and she wasn't talking about the view which were really the only reasons to be speaking at all.  Since then I try and think before I speak (I'd already learnt that in a morning I need to lie in silence until Ash has managed to gather his thoughts.  If I speak as soon as we wake up he's instantly confused so there's no point).  I ask myself whether he really needs to know the thing I was going to say and most of the time I decide he doesn't.  As a result he's calmer and, as I only tell him the things that will actually make a difference to him, he has room in his head to store that information even if it's only there temporarily.  Again there are people who moan that conversation has disappeared from their relationship and that's exactly how I used to feel.  Now I realise that we don't need to talk, I make sure I am content in my own head and life is much better all round.  So not 'treading on eggshells' but, instead, another dementia life lesson.

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