Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia covers a wide range of specific medical conditions which cause abnormal brain changes severe enough to interfere with daily life. Thinking abilities as they relate to behavior, feelings, memory and language may all be affected making it challenging for not only the person living with the disease but the people taking care of them. To offer some relief, we’ve provided five tips as they relate to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

1. Communicate Effectively

Interacting with someone who has Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, requires empathy, patience and tactful communication. When holding a conversation, try presenting your loved one with simple questions that involve a “yes” or “no” response. Moreover, anytime your loved one talks, strive to listen to the meaning behind their words. This will help you adjust your response to the level of affection or reassurance they need.

2. Don’t Argue

If your loved one says something that you don’t agree with, it’s best to let it be. Arguing usually leads to frustration, which makes the situation worse. If they are telling an elaborate story, make your best effort to go along with it. If the person is refusing to do an activity or task, attempt to switch their focus. When all else fails, sometimes it’s just best to take a break. Once calm, you can try a different approach.

3. Develop Routines

Upholding a routine offers structure, familiarity and enjoyment for both the caregiver and the person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Regular habits can also keep your loved one focused and more productive throughout the day. Caregivers should also try to keep in mind the times of the day that work best for their loved ones to avoid anxiety and agitation.

4. Don’t’ Take It Personally

When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be difficult to separate their true character from the disease. Try to remind yourself that when something troubling is said, this person has a brain disorder. Sometimes it even helps to maintain a respectful sense of humor throughout your caregiving journey. It’s okay to make light of tough circumstances.

 5. Take Care of Yourself

It’s easy to lose yourself in caregiving. But, abandoning your health, relationships and hobbies do more harm than good when it comes to delivering the best possible care for others. Things like healthy diet, stress management and asking for help are just some of the many ways you can practice self-care. Try to remember that it’s not selfish to attend to your needs as a caregiver – it’s essential.

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, your role is important and demanding. Consider these five tips as you adapt to the changes and trials ahead. If you find yourself in need of further guidance or services, we are always here to assist.