Practical Advice For Providing Care For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease And Other Types of Dementia.
Often it is simply intuition to help relate to and make decisions on what best to do when providing care for a loved one with memory loss. Unfortunately, when dealing with Alzheimers’s disease and other types of dementia, one’s instinct is often counterintuitive. Many times, the correct thing to do is the polar opposite of what seems like the right choice. The various phases of the disease present increasing challenges. As soon as one becomes good at managing one phase, another one starts. When providing care, try keeping the following thoughts and suggestions in mind:
Do Not Make Agreements
Asking a loved one to try to remember, keep a promise or never to do something again, does not work with advanced stages of dementia. Rather than discussing a situation, it is best to take action. Changing the environment is usually a more successful approach. As an example, rather than warning about the dangers of leaving the stove on, it is better to use a tea pot with an automatic off switch.
Use Straightforward Sentences
Being rational and reasonable does not work. A person with dementia does not respond to arguments, no matter how logical. Therefore, carefully explaining the situation and calling on their sense of appropriateness to get compliance will fail. Instead, best to try using simple sentences indicating what is about to happen.
Redirecting Works Better Than Correcting
A person with memory loss frequently forgets important things such as the death of a spouse. When reminded of their loss, it also brings out their pain. Sometimes a person with dementia asks to go home. By reassuring them that they are already home often leads to an argument. Instead, redirect and ask them to tell you about the person or home they mentioned is a better way to calm the person with dementia.
Accept Alternate Realities
Since society places a high value on honesty, encouraging a loved one with something that is not the truth does not feel right. However, when someone has dementia, honesty can be stressful. Many times, it is a wise decision just to play along and keep the peace.
Doctors Provide Better Care When Information Is Shared
Discuss everything witnessed in a loved one with the physicians during appointments. The most beneficial plan comes following a thorough presentation of the details. Sometimes, doctors also need to use therapeutic lying to increase compliance with the treatment and medications.
Be Realistic In What The Person Can And Cannot Do
Even though the temptation may be to take control over everything for someone with dementia, often it is better to observe what they are still capable of doing for themselves. It is easy to both underestimate and overestimate what a person with dementia can do. It is a constant struggle to find this balance between a loved one’s independence and watching their frustration of not being able to do something. Note, this balance may change day to day. Also, be aware of the mood swings that can occur when caring for someone with Alzheimers or dementia.
Do Not Ask, Tell Instead
Asking an entirely reasonable question such as “What do you want for dinner” may have been appropriate at a different time in their life. Asking a loved one to provide this answer may be a challenge, as they may not know the words for what they want, may not be hungry, and may not want the served food. Instead, only tell the person “We are going to eat now.” By doing so, this encourages the person to eat. Also, it takes away the struggle with the need to respond to the question.
Stop Trying To Be A Perfect Caregiver
Part of being human means accepting being imperfect. It is inevitable as a caregiver there will be times of patience and good judgment, but other moments when irritation and pure exhaustion take over. It is essential to learn to not only forgive the person with dementia, but also one’s self. Along the caregiving journey, it is also important that the caregiver not only takes care of their loved one but also themselves.
It Is Normal to Question A Dementia Diagnosis After Moments of Lucidity
Everyone with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia will have a time when they can respond appropriately and make perfect sense. By remembering that caregivers are not dealing with a person who once was, but instead to a disease. Often when these moments occur, it can feel as if the loved one has been faking it or that it is an exaggerated problem. Instead, realize these moments are not imagined, rather ones to be treasured when they do happen.
It is impossible for a caregiver to do it all. Do not wait, get support before needing help. Do not turn down offers from family and friends. It becomes harder to ask for help than to accept it from those willing to do so. Have a list of things that others can do to assist. For example, picking up a prescription, cooking a meal, or staying with a loved one to run an errand or just for respite. Also, consult other resources such as Powerful Tools For Caregivers and the Family Caregiver Education Series.
Set Up A Support System
Most importantly of all, it is crucial for family members caring for someone with dementia to create a good system of support. At Hibernian Home Care, we recognize firsthand just how challenging being a family caregiver can be. Thus we are available as a partner to help in delivering professional dementia and Alzheimer’s care. To learn more, Contact us anytime by calling 732-481-1148. Read more about the variety of memory specialty senior care services provided by our dedicated caregivers. Our service is available throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties of New Jersey to meet the unique requirements of each client.