Caregiving Tips

a170Be sensitive and gentle about informing the patient of the diagnosis
There will be times when you’ll want to remind the person that they have Alzheimer’s. At other times it might be better to refer to a “memory problem.” Even if you repeatedly tell the elder that they have Alzheimer’s disease, they may not remember that you told them. Be prepared to patiently repeat the information at times when you’re trying to help the person understand why they can’t do something or why you are taking over a task the person used to do.

Setting up home care
Develop a positive attitude. Many people look at their caregiving responsibility as a way of being involved with their loved one. Their caring is based on unconditional love, and they do not consider it a burden. Dementia patients are able to read body language and to respond to the positive attitudes of the caregiver. Where patient and caregiver have had problems in their past relationship, it can be especially challenging to empathize and be kind, so a support system for the caregiver is most important.

Learn to communicate with an alzheimer’s patient
Acknowledge requests and respond to them. Don’t argue or try to change the person’s mind, even if you believe the request is irrational. Be affectionate with the patient, if this feels natural. Try not to set up a cycle of paying attention only when the person displays problem behaviors. Break this negative cycle by being supportive of positive behavior.

Remember the worth of the person as a human being
Even if they don’t seem to respond, the person deserves to be loved and cared for, touched, and spoken to. Much like an infant, the dementia patient thrives on human contact. If treated poorly, the person feels rejection, loneliness, grief, and pain. Your warm, supportive care is essential to the dementia patient’s well being.

Managing behavior problems
Be accepting of the increasingly limited capabilities of the person with dementia and implement care strategies accordingly. Do your best to be patient, kind, flexible, supportive, and calm. This disease is no one’s fault, although it is very aggravating and disappointing. By the same token, don’t take problem behaviors (such as aggressiveness or wandering) personally. Accept the symptoms of the disease and proceed from there. Remember that the person is not behaving this way on purpose. For some of these problems, medications may be helpful.

Expect the patient to totally lose their memory
Be ready with boundless patience. Many Alzheimer’s sufferers have no awareness of their loss of memory. You may feel aggravated at repetitive behaviors or with having to repeat what you just said, time and time again. The positive side of this is that the person is not as upset as you are; they don’t realize what is happening to them or how it affects you.

Get emotional support for yourself
The above suggestions can be hard to implement. You have your own sense of grief and loss about the diagnosis – feelings that may be compounded as you see the person you’ve known and loved gradually lose their familiar personality and abilities. Your lifestyle may be radically changed, especially if you are the lone caregiver. Besides, some caregivers may have responsibility for a person who they weren’t even close to, or who treated them badly in the past, making it particularly hard to stay positive or to empathize with the patient. Remember there is plenty of support for you in this journey if only you reach out for it.

Always Best Care Senior Services can assist with Alzheimer’s and dementia care from one day a week, just a few hours a day to 24-hour care, seven days a week. Call your local Always Best Care office to find out how we can provide you with the support you deserve.