Published on: October 8, 2010
by Suzanne Rose for Helium:
There are many challenges to being an Alzheimer’s or dementia caregiver. Certain strategies can help you deal with this difficult yet necessary job. Consider the following helpful tips.
It can be difficult to see a person that you cared about affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia. You may start to lose patience when you have to repeat yourself. Also, many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients do not act like themselves. They may be very aggressive or say things that are inappropriate or unkind.
As much as you struggle with this, try to be patient with them. They did not ask for the disease. In many cases, they do not understand that they are saying something inappropriate. They do not remember repeating the same question ten times in five minutes. Instead of getting angry or upset, try to think about what is still there of them. Even their smile can remind you of who they truly are. You will often feel better as well.
It is important to be kind and understanding to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. As hard as it is for you to see them as they are, imagine what it is like for them. Even your smile can make such a large difference for them.
Try to keep routines
A lot of Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers prefer routines. It can be something constant in a world gone awry. Even changing where they sit to eat can be confusing for them. They need as many anchors as possible.
Do stimulating activities with them
Even if they can no longer actually play a game of cards, try to do your best. Take them out places if you can. Talk to them about things even if they do not understand everything. The more stimulation you give them, the better they may be.
Understand that lying is okay
Your Alzheimer’s stricken mother asks you where your long-deceased father is. Many do not know what to do, for they have so long been taught that lying is wrong. In the case of an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, it often is not. Why make them suffer again through the death of a loved one? They are unlikely to believe you anyway. When they ask the hard questions, it is reasonable to tell them what would make them happy or to distract them. In this case, ignorance can be one blessing of a devastating disease.
Keep their physical safety in mind
Many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia start to wander away. They may leave the stove on or take medicine improperly. Take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others. Just as you would childproof your home for a small child, make sure that they are protected as well.
Taking care of an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient is a large job. The biggest tip is to still enjoy their presence and the fact that they are still with you. The above tips can help you navigate this path.
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
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