If only providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia came with a handbook, rather than the trial-and-error-and-trial-again method so many of us are faced with. The various stages of the disease that have to be worked through cause it to become increasingly challenging; the moment we start to feel reasonably adept at managing one phase, we’re on to the next.
At Home Matters, we recognize firsthand how challenging dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care can be, and present the following suggestions to keep in mind that may help:
- It is ok to make mistakes. Being human means being imperfect. Keep your expectations of yourself within reason, understanding that there will be times when you have sufficient patience and discernment, and times you wish you could do over. Don’t forget to take care of yourself; and be sure to remind yourself often that you are doing the best you can.
- Redirecting works better than correcting. When a person with dementia is disoriented, using logic to attempt to reorient the individual can lead to disappointment for both of you. For example, if the person is looking for a childhood friend, instead of explaining that this friend died a long time ago, ask the person to tell you more information about the friend or to talk about a fun adventure they shared.
- Don’t be afraid to accept your loved one’s alternate reality. We place a high value on truthfulness in our society, and being dishonest with a senior loved one makes us feel uncomfortable. However, if the person truly believes that he’s the author of the book you’re reading, it’s often a wise course of action to simply play along and maintain the peace.
- Be realistic in both what the person can and cannot do. Even though our inclination may be to take control and take over everything for a person with Alzheimer’s, it’s better to stop and see what he or she is still capable of doing independently. Similarly, if the older adult begins to experience agitation over a task, it’s time to step up and help.
- Doctors can learn something new, too. Make sure to discuss everything you’re witnessing in your loved one with the doctor during medical appointments. He or she can only deliver the best treatment plan when all of the details are on the table.
Most importantly, it’s essential for family members providing Alzheimer’s disease care to develop a good system of support. Home Matters is available to partner with you in delivering customized dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care; contact us for more details.