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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Aalberts

The Role of the "Bad Guy" in Dementia Care

Author: Carrie Aalberts, BS, MS, CDP, CMDCP, aka Dementia Darling

Have you ever needed to be the "bad" guy? It's a role we all dread. It's a role that often comes with guilt, tension, and discomfort. But in certain circumstances, particularly when caring for a loved one with dementia, you may need to step into this uncomfortable position to ensure their safety and well- being.

For instance, when your loved one can no longer drive safely due to their changing cognitive abilities, you may have to be the one who takes their driver's license away. It's a difficult decision to make, but it's necessary to prevent dangerous situations that could put your loved one or others at risk.

Now, that's not an easy conversation to have. Discussing the loss of independence and control can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. They may get angry with you and not understand why you're taking this step. However, remember, this is for their best interest and safety.

During these difficult times, it's crucial to approach the situation with empathy, patience, and understanding. Your loved one is facing a loss, and they need your support to navigate through this challenging phase. Explain to them why this decision is necessary, and reassure them that you are there to help them through this transition.

But here's a tip that might make the process a bit easier: When possible, see if someone else can play the “bad” guy part. For example, their physician can write a note saying they can no longer drive. This approach can shift the focus from you to a third-party authority, which can help diffuse some of the tension and resentment.

Navigating the challenges of dementia care requires a delicate balance of compassion and firmness. There will be times when you have to make tough decisions for the sake of your loved one's safety and well-being. You may have to be the "bad" guy sometimes, but remember, you're doing it because you care.

In the end, it's about ensuring that our loved ones are safe, cared for, and loved, even when they may not fully understand the decisions we make on their behalf. It's about being there for them in their time of need, even when it means making difficult choices.

So if you ever find yourself needing to be the "bad" guy, remember: you're doing it out of love. And that makes you not the "bad" guy, but a caring, compassionate caregiver.

Keep going, Caregiver! I see you!


Carrie aka Dementia Darling

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