I do a great deal of lecturing and training to a number of individuals from all walks of life. Many are informal, at home, caregivers while others may be professional caregivers like Nurses and yes, doctors, as well as those who simply want to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease “just in case.” I’m aware that many may already have a very good insight into the disease as well as how to deal with the many care giving challenges that it presents. It’s with them in mind that I always mention that “if I’m sharing information you may already know, then please look at my presentation as reinforcing and not redundant. Today, we’re going to review some key care giving tips that some of you may be familiar with and some of you may not. Regardless, it’s great information to have and to share.
Kristen Cusato, created a wonderful sheet of information called “The ABC’s of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Caregivers.” I won’t go through the entire alphabet with you here but I will share what I feel are some of the most important things for formal and informal care givers to always remember.
Always approach them positively. They can read your emotions and our mission is to keep them in a “happy place.”
Cue them but don’t ask them. Not “do you want to put on your coat?” rather “let’s put on our coats.”
Every day is a new day. Just because things didn’t go well yesterday, doesn’t mean
today will be just as bad.
Join the Journey. If they want to tell the same story…again, let them. After all, it’s the first time they’ve told it.
Involve them with meaningful activities. Can they clear the table, put dishes in the sink or dishwasher or fold laundry? It doesn’t matter if they do it correctly.
Remember that they had full meaningful lives and were not impacted by this disease all their life.
If they become agitated be patient and be a detective. What may have prompted the agitation? A loud environment? Pain? Hunger? Something on television?
Enjoy the special moments with them and embrace them.
Approach them from the front and keep eye contact as that establishes trust.
Let them feel your love and tell them you love them. It will help them feel safe.
There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver so don’t “beat yourself up” if you make a mistake. Forgive yourself and move on.
Never argue with them as their world makes perfect sense to them as they see it.
Take care of you or else you won’t be able to take care of them.
Control their environment. To much intrusive noise e.g T.V., children playing loudly, music can all be coming at them at once.
If they become irritated or agitated learn how to redirect them to their “happy place” e.g. play a favorite piece of music, put on a DVD of their favorite T,V. show or sporting event.
When speaking with them, keep it simple. Giving them instructions they can’t follow or a task that’s too complicated, won’t end well.
Their long term memory stays with them longer so talk about the old days if that’s a positive subject for them.
Remember to use therapeutic fibs to deal with difficult questions.
Maintain a good and constant routine. Have set times for Meals, meds, walks, bathing and bedtime.
I’m confident you could probably add a few more tips of your own. Remember, you are not alone. There are Support Groups, Day Centers, Home Care Agencies, caregiving courses and of course don’t be afraid to call on family and friends for help. I’ll also provide you the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 help line number once again, 800-272-3900.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Join the Journey.