Resolutions for Better Caregiving

By Robert Elmer III on January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Someone once said.”If at first you don’t succeed, your running about normal.” I can think of no more appropriate application of that quote than when it applies to formal and informal caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Since I began writing these articles, broadcasting my “Memory Care Minutes” and lecturing, I’m stunned by the number of people that have approached me. They’re all grateful for the information that I share and tell me they’ve learned a great deal. Unfortunately, many continue to say the first thing they learned was they were “doing it wrong.” That was never my intent.
“At home” caregivers have a very difficult job. For that matter so do professional caregivers but they get to go home at the end of their shift. There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver so don’t be tough on yourself. You’re allowed to have a good old fashioned primal scream or cry; just don’t do it in the house or around your loved one. They may not understand why you’re upset but they will recognize that you are and that’s not going to help.
As we’ve begun a New Year, I wanted to suggest a few caregiving resolutions for you. Important reminders that I know will go a long way to helping you become an even better caregiver. There are three things you need to always keep in mind. 1. The number one thing they look to you for is to feel safe. 2. You cannot reason with someone that has literally lost the ability to reason. 3. It’s the illness. I think that you’ll find that, in most cases, all behavior issues you may have to deal with will fall under one of these three guidelines. If they sound familiar to you, they should, as I share them with anyone I ever consult with and I always look at it as reinforcing and not redundant. Caregivers must always remember to join their journey, allow them to do as much for themselves as they can, have a set routine every day and try to have fun. If they’re comfortable with it, take them shopping, to a museum or on your errand rounds. If they aren’t comfortable leaving the house then make a concerned effort to learn what they like to do or watch. Do they like to draw? Do they enjoy looking at pictures of family? Do they have a favorite singer they enjoy listening to? Do you know their favorite TV show? It may be one that’s no longer on the air but you can buy DVD’s of “Lucy,” Bonanza or Seinfeld.
Your loved ones are blessed to have you in their lives even though they may never show it. Be good to yourself and don’t place unrealistic goals or expectations on yourself or your loved one. If it’s early in the game, insure that you have all of the appropriate affairs in order from advanced directives to who’s going to get the antique canopy bed. In the event that you eventually become the Executor of their estate, you’ll be very glad you took these steps early. Be aware of your own limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members, friends or to take advantage of other resources. The Alzheimer’s Hot line is 800-272-3900 and they’ll answer your behavior questions 24/7. The local Adult Day Center provides you a place for them to engage and socialize with others and enjoy lunch while you get some much needed time to charge your personal batteries.
Finally, I want to remind you how important appropriate touching is. Sitting with them, holding their hand or giving them a warm and sincere hug followed by an “I love you” will go a long way, for both of you (See #1 above).
Questions? Email me at repe@careforcaregivers.org. Remember, Join the Journey.

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Robert Elmer IIIView all posts by Robert Elmer III