Surrounded by clouds, a speech bubble shows the silhouette of a squirrel walking along a tree branch.

What Kind of a Person Am I Becoming?

"Look at the squirrels." And with that the discussion began. My loved one was able to describe what she was seeing in our backyard. She was seeing squirrels. I looked out back and saw nothing. I saw no squirrels. Two weeks ago I may have corrected her and talked about the fact that there were no squirrels in sight. And that is how it goes when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

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I realized I didn't need to correct her

Immediately, I pivoted from the squirrels in the backyard to the general significance of squirrels in her life. My loved one grew up in Mississippi where people farmed and hunted and sometimes squirrels were on the menu. This is not my thing but my loved one’s family was quite poor and that’s just what they did. It was not unusual, so I talked a little about that as she continued to look for squirrels in the yard.

In that instant, I realized that I didn’t need to correct her or bring her into my reality. It really was not that important in the big picture. Squirrels do come and go here on Long Island and I am sure that she has seen plenty of them in the past as I have. They are super cute. But did it matter if they were there in that instant or not? But, what does matter?

But am I supposed to agree with everything?

So, is this now the trajectory of my interaction with her? Am I supposed to agree with everything she thinks, feels, says, sees, smells, tastes? Do I dive head first into this and suspend what I believe to be true? Do I do this because it makes her feel better? At what point does this become dangerous? Am I making up stories to keep the peace?

What does this say about my character?

What am I becoming as a caregiver? In the film and television industry we tell stories, both real and imagined. It is our job to make our audience feel like that have entered into this reality for a couple of hours at their pleasure and entertainment. Am I becoming a storyteller in my real life? Do I enter this imaginary world in my own very real house?

Am I telling lies? Am I making stuff up? Am I doing this out of love and care or just to “get through this?” At what price do I tell the truth? These are questions I am beginning to wrestle with as this disease progresses.

What about my character? Do I like what I am becoming?

I am choosing to be kind over being right

Here is my answer. Yes, I like the person I am becoming. I am making the choice to be kind over being right. I am making the choice to be loving rather than correct. I may need to bend the truth a little for the sake of well-being of my loved one. I give her the truth she can handle because I love her. Whatever I do to correct her now won’t matter soon enough anyway.

What do you think? How do you process these types of situations? Do you have squirrels in your backyard as well?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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