Take A Break From Caring
Taking regular breaks can help you to look after yourself and better support you in caring for someone with dementia.
Family and friends may be able to provide short breaks for you to have time “just for you”.
Other options include:
- day centres social services or your local carers’ centre should provide details of these in your area
- respite care this can be provided in your own home or for a short break in a care home
Coping Strategies For Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers
If you are a caregiver for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease , you may face difficult challenges as you try to provide care and understand the behavior changes of the person you are caring for. Understanding the behavior of a person with AD can help lessen these difficulties.
People with AD may exhibit the following behaviors:
- Extreme anxiety about daily life, which may be exhibited by asking questions and repeating information about once familiar events and/or people, preparing for appointments/day care well ahead of time and using notes and reminders endlessly.
- Apathy or a lack of initiative about tasks that used to be routine, though now feel overwhelming. For example, the person who always enjoyed puzzles but no longer does them because they are too overwhelming and require skills he/she no longer possesses.
- Frequent agitation may occur as people become less able to interpret their environment and control or express their feelings. For example, a person with AD may strike out at a caregiver.
Get Your Parent Involved In Numerous Activities
Try to increase the range of activities your parents is involved with. Keeping the brain active can stave off some of the ravages of AD.
From crossword puzzles at home, a game of bingo outside, using a computer or tablet, reading or even watching movies, staying mentally active is key.
Sometimes, this can be an opportunity to start up a new activity with your parent in order to spend more time together. You can turn a negative into a positive.
Bottom line: keep your loved one stimulated and active. This will slow down the insidious progress of Alzheimers.
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The Warmth Of The Human Touch
Ever noticed how a good massage helps soothe any person, even a baby enjoys it. A gentle touch or a warm hug can result in a calming effect. It creates a bond between the carer and the person with dementia and helps increase trust. A gentle pat on the hand or shoulders or a soft back rub is a great way to help them feel less agitated or anxious. Truly, touch is everything when words fall short.
How To Deal With An Elderly Parent With Alzheimers
This question is quite normal since Alzheimers disease can be difficult both for the person affected but also for relatives and family. Feeling like our heads are playing tricks on us all the time is certainly not easy. Unfortunately, seeing an elderly person lose his or her independence and have frequent memory lapses due to Alzheimers is no more. Be aware, however, that there are ways to be well equipped. Knowing what to do and how to deal with an elderly parent with Alzheimers will help you better support your loved ones and provide them with the support they need.
Cope With Changes In Communication
As your loved ones Alzheimers or dementia progresses, youll notice changes in how they communicate. They may have trouble finding words, substitute one word for another, repeat the same things over and over, or become easily confused. Increased hand gestures, losing their train of thought, and even inappropriate outbursts are all common as well.
Even if your loved one has trouble maintaining a conversationor less interest in starting oneits important to encourage social interaction. Making them feel safe rather than stressed will make communication easier, so try to manage your own frustration levels.
Be patient. If your loved one has difficulty recalling a word, for example, allow them time. Getting anxious or impatient will only inhibit their recall. Gently supply the word or tell the person that you can come back to it later.
Be aware of your body language. Your loved one responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues as much as the words you choose. Make eye contact, stay calm, and keep a relaxed, open posture.
Speak slowly and clearly. Give one direction or ask one question at a time, use short sentences, and give your loved one more time to process whats being said. Find a simpler way to say the same thing if it wasnt understood the first time.
Maintain respect. Dont use patronizing language, baby talk, or sarcasm. It can cause hurt or confusion.
How You Can Handle Dementia Denial
Your parent does not have to accept that they have dementia for you to help them. Getting a diagnosis of dementia is more important for you as a caregiver to be able to best help your parent.
Alzheimers Disease International states that getting an early diagnosis of dementia will:
- Allow you to have the time to take advantage of therapies that may enhance their quality of life and slow the progression of the disease
- Give both you and your parent time to make decisions about financial and legal issues
- Prepare for the changes that will come as the disease progresses
Use the following steps to help guide you and your parent through a diagnosis of dementia:
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Keep Dangerous Things Away
Looking after people with Alzheimers disease can feel like watching over a toddler who is just starting to walk and touch everything he can grab hold of.
During the severe stage when the patient is starting to forget about things and their uses, leaving dangerous items like knives, match sticks, sharp and pointed objects around can be dangerous.
Take the same kind of precautions as you would with children and youll be perfectly fine.
How Do You Calm Someone With Dementia
Caring for our elderly parents is not easy, especially if they get stubborn as they age and have signs of dementia in the later stages. They usually resist care and dig in their heels which are among the most common reasons why adult children look for outside help from caregivers or nursing homes.If you are having difficulties taking care of and dealing with a senior parent with dementia, you are not alone! We understand the struggles and challenges when it comes to convincing them to bathe, feeding them or getting them to the doctor, or simply communicating with them. The list practically goes on and on.
Thats why weve created this list of tips and best practices from caregivers, medical doctors, dementia experts, and other professionals, to help families of people with dementia. We hope this guide will help you learn how to foster connections with your loved one or parent suffering from dementia with empathy and care.
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Do Try To Be Forgiving And Patient
Do not forget that dementia is the condition that results in irrational behavior and causes dementia sufferers to act the way they do. The patients demand plenty of patience and forgiveness from the people looking after them. Have the heart to let things go instead of carrying grudges around for something that the patient may not be in control of.
Resources For Families On Confabulation And Dementia
We have put together a few resources to help you and your family care for a parent who has dementia.
- Creating Moments of Joy Jolene Brackey uses humor and helpful tips for caring for a parent with Alzheimers disease.
- Understanding the Dementia Experience is a free ebook by author Jennifer Ghent-Fuller a nurse and educator working with people who have dementia.
- The Alzheimers Association has a wealth of information about the symptoms, causes, and research on Alzheimers disease.
- There have been movies about the dementia experience, but none may be as accurate and heartbreaking as The Father. If you want a clear picture of confabulation and how it affects families, this is the movie to see.
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How Home Care Assistance Can Help
Home Care Assistance can help with a parent who confabulates by providing support and facilitating coping techniques.
- In-home care can offer relief from caregiving duties and give your parent someone new to interact with.
- Caregivers provide patient-focused activities on reducing stress and keeping people stimulated by using memory books and other dementia-specific diversions.
- In-home caregivers use validation and distraction techniques to calm agitation.
- Caregivers keep your parent safe by monitoring wandering and other dangerous activities.
Caregivers And Family Members Should Always Provide Reassurances
According to the Alzheimers Association, its helpful when you try to say calming phrases such as:Youre safe hereIm sorry that you are upsetIm hereI wont leave you
These words work like a soothing balm that calms down your loved ones and makes them feel safe. Its equally important that you maintain your composure when they get violent or aggressive. Dont get upset, just be positive, remain calm and reassuring. Try to always speak slowly in a soft tone.
11. Use memorabilia and make them remember the good timesYou can always try reminding them about their old adventures, people and places they liked to visit. You can bring pictures or sing their favorite songs. If they have no memory of past events, or they get upset when you bring them up, change the topic, and talk about something else.
12. Ensure everyones safety: the patient with dementia, you, or your caregiverMake sure you and the person are safe. If the person is unable to calm down, seek assistance from others. Always call 911 in emergency situations. If you do call 911, make sure to tell responders the person has dementia, which causes them to act aggressively.- Alzheimers Association
Remember That Hard Time Will Pass
As hard as the transition process may be for the senior citizen and their family, it is not something that will last a lifetime. When aging individuals finally settle in their new living quarters, they may get really busy with all of the social activities and recreational opportunities. They will spend time bonding with the staff, making new friends, enjoying various social opportunities and enjoying an environment where they are properly taken care of. Your parent may still feel lonely at times but in the long run, they will adjust, and thanks to the concern of their family members they will enjoy better quality life to be comfortable, content and safe in their later years.
Although moving a parent with dementia to assisted living can be a daunting task for many, proper planning, and patience can help make the transition a smooth ride for everyone involved.
Do Not Argue With Them
Arguing or reasoning with your Alzheimers parent does not help, and most often makes the matter worse. It is common for Alzheimers patients to become paranoid.
If you find yourself getting drawn into arguments started by them take a step back. Breathe deeply and look at things objectively. Always be the one to break away from an argument. Do not wait for a resolution.
Likewise, you also dont want to talk to them condescendingly. If they happen to make a mistake or act irrationally, try distracting them by offering them their favorite food.
You can also play their favorite song. Any kind of distraction helps as long as it gets their mind off from the argument.
Also, you might want to sidetrack the conversation subtly. Sudden changes or movements can make them defensive.
Furthermore, your parent may not be able to discern the content of what you say but they can sense how you feel about it. Be aware of your vocal pitch and tonality. Talk to them softly and slowly. Especially if they are agitated with something.
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Get A Carer’s Assessment
If you care for someone, you can have an assessment to see what might help make your life easier. This is called a carer’s assessment.
A carer’s assessment might recommend things like:
- someone to take over caring so you can take a break
- training in how to lift safely
- help with housework and shopping
- putting you in touch with local support groups so you have people to talk to
A carer’s assessment is free and anyone over 18 can ask for one.
Reassure Them Of Their Safety
The desire to go home is probably the same desire anyone would have if we found ourselves in a strange and unreasonable place.
Try this instead:
Reassure the person verbally, and possibly with arm touches or hand-holding if this feels appropriate. Let the person know that they are safe.
It may help to provide reassurance that the person is still cared about. They may be living somewhere different from where they lived before, and need to know theyre cared for.
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Techniques To Coping With Confabulation
There are ways to cope with a parent who confabulates, and by following these suggestions, things may improve. Anything that creates more stability and calm will help.
- Use Validation Therapy Techniques
Validation therapy is a way to approach adults who have Alzheimers or dementia with empathy, comfort, and reassurance. Rather than correcting or getting angry with the person who confabulates, validation therapy recommends the following:
- Stay calm and focused. Breathe deeply.
- Reminisce and talk about the past.
- Acknowledge the emotion behind the false memory.
- Reassure and dont correct
- Create a Memory Book
Memory books are a great way to create a photo album or scrapbook of important events in your parents life. When someone confabulates, they are losing track of the past. Memory books can provide comfort and stability by reminding people of the positive people and events in their life.
- Understanding the Purpose of Confabulation
If you understand the purpose of confabulation, it will help you learn how to respond in a caring and compassionate way.
- People with dementia are confused and overwhelmed by memory loss and confusion. Confabulation is a way of making sense of their situation.
- When a person is asked a question and doesnt know the answer, it can be disempowering. Confabulation is a way of gaining relevance in the world and providing a sense of control over surroundings.
- Filling in memory gaps is a way of creating an alternate reality that is reassuring.
Finding Comfort In Embracing The Now
Despite the changes that occur with a loved one, Drew says connecting with them in a way that resonates with them can be meaningful for both parent and child.
People with Alzheimers can retain a core sense of self deep into the disease when their brain is still affected. There are things we can do to help support that rather than an environment that shuts them down, she said.
For example, Drew recalls a woman who found that talking to her father about the next-door neighbors from her childhood, reading him his favorite poems, and playing him is favorite songs, resonated with him, and as a result brought her comfort during visits.
Even though he couldnt say her name, he knew she was there for him and that she was one of his people. They were able to have a wonderful connection that was built on a lifetime of being family even until the end of his life, Drew said.
She refers to this approach as person-centered care focusing on the person over the disease.
Calandra practices her own form of person-centered care by tapping into her fathers love of humor.
When I visit, I like to make him laugh. Even though his laugh is different, I know hes happy because he smiles and laughs when I say silly things, Calandra said. I hold on to the fact that he still recognizes me and my voice.
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Caregiving In The Early Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
In the early stages of Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, your loved one may not need much caregiving assistance. Rather, your role initially may be to help them come to terms with their diagnosis, plan for the future, and stay as active, healthy, and engaged as possible.
Accept the diagnosis. Accepting a dementia diagnosis can be just as difficult for family members as it for the patient. Allow yourself and your loved one time to process the news, transition to the new situation, and grieve your losses. But dont let denial prevent you from seeking early intervention.
Deal with conflicting emotions. Feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and fear are common in the early stages of Alzheimers or dementiafor both the patient and you, the caregiver. Let your loved one express what theyre feeling and encourage them to continue pursuing activities that add meaning and purpose to their life. To deal with your own fears, doubts, and sadness, find others you can confide in.
Make use of available resources. There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you provide effective care on this journey. Start by finding the Alzheimers Association in your country . These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.