If only there was a handbook for Alzheimer’s caregivers, 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 make it all the more complex; the instant we start to feel relatively adept at handling one phase, we’re on to the next.
At Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, we recognize firsthand how difficult dementia care can be, and present the following strategies to keep in mind that may help:
- Remember, you are only human. Being human means being imperfect. Understand that there are going to be times when you are able to be patient and make wise choices, and other times that you may later regret. Along the way, remember to care for yourself as well as your loved one; and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.
- Redirecting works better than correcting. When someone with dementia is disoriented, using common sense to try to reorient the individual may end up in aggravation for both of you. For example, if the individual is trying to find a childhood buddy, rather than explaining that this friend passed on ten years ago, ask the person to tell you more about the friend or to describe a fun experience they shared.
- It is ok to accept alternate realities. As a society that places a high value on honesty, the thought of being untruthful with an older loved one goes against our grain. However, if the older adult truly thinks he’s the author of the novel you’re reading, it’s often a wise decision to just play along and maintain the peace.
- Be realistic in both what the person can and cannot do. Although our tendency may be to take charge and take over everything for someone with dementia, it’s more effective to pause and see what he or she is still able to do independently. Similarly, if the individual begins to experience frustration over a task, it’s time to step up and help.
- Doctors can provide better care when you share. Make sure to discuss everything you’re seeing in your loved one with the doctor during medical appointments. He or she can only give you the most effective plan of action when all of the details are on the table.
Most of all, it’s crucial for all Alzheimer’s caregivers to establish a strong system of support. Home Sweet Home In-Home Care in St. Joseph, MI, is available to partner with you or a loved one in delivering professional dementia and Alzheimer’s care; contact us for more details.