March 9, 2017
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a guidebook that provided all the answers for dementia and Alzheimer’s caregivers, rather than the guessing game so many of us are dealing with? The different phases of the disease that have to be worked through cause it to become even more complicated; as soon as we start to feel moderately good at handling one phase, we’re on to the next.
At Continuum, we recognize firsthand precisely how tough dementia and Alzheimer’s care can be, and provide the following ideas to keep in mind that may help:
- Remember, you are only human. Being human means being imperfect. It is inevitable that there will be times when you have good judgment and patience, and other times when exhaustion and irritation win over. Don’t forget to take care of yourself; and be sure to remind yourself often that you are doing the best you can.
- Redirection works better than correction. When a person with dementia is disoriented, using common sense to attempt to reorient the individual can lead to irritation for both of you. For example, if the individual is trying to find a childhood friend, instead of explaining that this buddy passed on many years ago, ask the person to tell you more about the friend or to talk about a fun experience they shared.
- Don’t be afraid to accept your loved one’s alternate reality. As our society has placed a high value on honesty, encouraging a loved one with dementia in something we know to be a lie just goes against our grain. However, if the older adult truly is convinced he’s the author of the book you’re reading, it’s often a good option to simply play along and keep the peace.
- Be reasonable about both what activities or tasks the senior can and cannot do. Even though our temptation may be to take charge and take over everything for someone with dementia, it’s much better to stop and see what he or she is still able to do independently. Similarly, if the individual starts to experience irritation over a task, it’s time to step up and assist.
- Doctors can learn something new, too. Don’t forget to discuss everything you’re witnessing in your loved one with the physician during medical appointments. He or she can only give you the best course of action when all of the details are on the table.
Most of all, it’s critical for family members providing dementia care to build a good system of support. Continuum is available to partner with you in providing customized dementia and Alzheimer’s care in St. Louis and the surrounding area; contact us for more details.