Making the shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’ when caring for people with Alzheimer’s

Blogger shares how changing language enhances quality of life

Caring for a person living with cognitive impairment requires caregivers to be selective about the words they use, and substituting the words “you” and “me” with “we” is one important step in this process, says Alzheimer’s expert and blogger Bob DeMarco.

In Part 5 of The OMNIway’s series on communicating with people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the importance of using the pronoun “we” when in conversation with people living with cognitive is examined.

DeMarco, the founder of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room website, a resource dedicated to sharing expert information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, says those providing care to people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia should “take an inventory” of the words they say when providing care.

Using the word “we” as much as possible changes the context of conversations, DeMarco says.

“The word ‘you’ is singular in nature. The word ‘we,’ however, implies something very different. In the caregiving paradigm, ‘we’ implies ‘you’ and ‘me.’ You and me together,” DeMarco writes.

“When talking to your love one, do you say, ‘you need to take a shower’? Or do you say, ‘we need to take a shower?’ ”

DeMarco says the first part of changing language is changing thinking.

“You start by realizing that your loved one is the person you always knew,” he writes. “Sure, they have changed due to the complications brought on by Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. But take a good hard look – it is still them.”

DeMarco says his experience caring for his mother taught him the value of using the word “we.”

“Once I started thinking that ‘we’ needed to start living our life together, everything started to fall into place,” he writes.

Click here to read more from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room.

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