– By Holly Klamer
Those who provide memory care to older people with Alzheimer’s disease should always remember one important thing: they may not be their regular, normal selves anymore. As much as we refuse to admit, and as family members we tend to be in denial, if a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the symptoms will gradually worsen. It can be difficult, yes, but it does not have to be unbearable. There will be days when your relationship with them as caregiver can become challenged – these are the days that you should be strongly willed and be your most understanding self.
Alzheimer’s is neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s brain and can cause forgetfulness, among other symptoms. Sixty to seventy percent of the cases lead to dementia, which typically forces family members to look for Alzheimer’s care facilities at some point. Giving care does not have to mean you are a professional caregiver. You just need to be strong and understanding. Here are 8 critical tips for giving care to patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Don’t ask, “Do you remember?”
It can easily be an honest and innocent remark that you make, but this statement can deeply hurt someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Remember that one of the most prominent symptoms of Alzheimer’s is slowly losing memories, and asking this question can trigger a hurt emotion that can strain your relationship with them. Instead, drop the statement ‘do you remember’ and go directly to share a memory that you think they might enjoy recalling. Whether they can still recall or not, a happy story of their life can trigger happy and positive emotions.
2. Don’t pull away
Situations may become more challenging as time passes and as they show more symptoms, and you may be tempted to always pull away. Remember that in the times when they forget and feel confused do they need you the most to make them feel safe and secure. Be prepared to give your time and patience in helping them out, especially when the time comes when simple chores become too difficult for them.
3. Avoid open-ended questions
Open ended questions can make them feel pressured to answer which, in turn, can cause stress, anxiety or make them upset. As much as you can, avoid asking them open ended questions. As the disease progresses, you may also gradually lean towards close ended questions all the time to avoid their confusion and anxiety.
4. Don’t argue, correct or disagree
Remember that Alzheimer’s disease can alter one’s reality and belief of their memories. You may be enticed to correct them all the time, on their memories and facts, but this can just trigger negative emotional responses from them. This does not mean you should allow them to speak or believe anything they say, but always choose your battles.
5. Maintain eye contact
Eye contact is very important in communication. This will give you an authoritative stature and will make them feel that you are safe. Remember to keep your look gentle and patient, and express calmness for them to also feel calm and safe.
6. Do quickly change the subject if the person does get upset
As a person shows more symptoms of the disease, the things and thoughts that upset them may increase. This can be as simple as noise that would annoy them or clutter in the house. This response is triggered by the brain functions deteriorating and is not in their control. Quickly change the subject or change the scene if they get upset.
7. Know that you play important role in your loved one’s well-being
As the caregiver, the patient looks up to you as the one who can make them feel safe and secure. When the symptoms start to increase, they may tend to forget who you are and may feel insecure around you sometimes. This is a common situation as the disease carries on to the later stages. Even then, you play an important role in their life as their caregiver.
8. Do take care of yourself
Giving care to a patient with Alzheimer’s can become a full time job and may sometimes cause you to lose track of your own health and well-being. If you fall ill, you and your patient will have a hard time working around the daily tasks. Do take care of yourself.
Patience and communication are important to maintain your relationship with someone who has Alzheimer’s. True, time may come that they may not be able to remember you but your care towards them should not change. You can check assisted living facilities near you for better care options or more tips on how to care for Alzheimer’s patients.
This post was written by Holly Klamer. She loves to write on issues related to memory care facilities for seniors, assisted and senior living and retirement and is a frequent contributor on many blogs and online publications
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