It can be extremely difficult and severely stressful to be the caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. These unique individuals must have extensive knowledge about the disease as well as the appropriate skills to provide care that patients not only require, but deserve. There are several tips that can make traveling this path much smoother for both the patients and the caregivers.
Try to communicate with Alzheimer’s patients on their level and do not ask if they remember. Alzheimer’s disease falls into a category of disorders known as dementia, and in many cases, patients simply cannot remember. This question will cause a great deal of unneeded frustration in the relationship. In order to communicate with the individual on his/her level, try to determine what frame of mind he/she is in. For example, many Alzheimer’s patients go through a range of mental ages throughout a typical day. It is best to determine what age patients are speaking from by their behavior and respond in that frame of mind.
One excellent way to connect and communicate with Alzheimer’s patients who are in the late stages of dementia is through animals, children, and various forms of art. Many caregivers have found the introduction of art such as music or even coloring to be extremely successful. This applies even if the patients are beginning to find it difficult to speak because art, children, and pets speak to them on a different level.
Many times, due to the lapse in memory, patients may be out of sorts or even irritable. It is best not to correct them, if they happen to make an incorrect statement. They have no way of knowing that they are in error and no amount of correction is likely to help them acknowledge this. It will only cause frustration and, perhaps, arguments that are completely unnecessary. It is best to speak as gently as possible to Alzheimer’s patients without being condescending.
Be careful not to point out that individuals should know who visitors are, if patients do not recognize everyone on a day to day basis. This is a natural progression of this disease. It is better to politely reintroduce individuals as many times as necessary. It may also be a good idea to warn family and friends who stop in to visit so they are prepared to do the same.
One of the most crucial tips for those caring for individuals caring for Alzheimer’s patients is to never neglect the self. This responsibility can be very overwhelming as well as highly stressful. One of the first steps is to be armed with as much information as possible. Try to be calm with patients and keep all available resources handy. Never forget that resources include the patients’ family and friends. It is not physically or mentally possible for a single individual to accomplish everything. If assistance is needed, do not hesitate to ask for it. Take time for the self and to breathe deeply. This may mean asking friends or family members to sit with patients for a brief period of time to allow for a small break.
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