Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeHealthHow To Deal With Alzheimer's As A Family Member

How To Deal With Alzheimer’s As A Family Member

Do Try And Identify The Trigger That Causes Behavior Change

Coping with Caring for a Family Member with Dementia or Alzheimer

After spending some time with a patient who has dementia, caregivers may be in a position to identify some of the things that make dementia sufferers yell, get physical, or change their mood. For some, it may be something simple such as taking a bath or even getting dressed.

The best approach to handle this is not to force the patient to do something that they do not want to do. Try and distract them with something else that allows them to relax and calm down. Once they are not a danger to themselves or anyone around them, try going back to the subject, but this time reassuringly and calmly.

Dementia Behavior: Sleep Problems

While quality sleep tends to decrease as you age, people who have dementia experience more sleep disturbances than other seniors. In fact, sleep problems affect as many as a third of seniors with dementia.

Common sleep issues may include:

  • Difficulty getting and staying asleep
  • Agitation and restlessness when trying to sleep
  • Thinking its daytime when its night, going as far as getting up, getting dressed and wanting to start the day, Hashmi says

Sleep disturbances are hard on patients and caregivers alike, Hashmi says. Its physically and mentally exhausting to be up night after night.

Tips For Everyday Care For People With Dementia

Early on in Alzheimers and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:

  • Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
  • Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
  • Plan activities that the person enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day.
  • Consider a system or reminders for helping those who must take medications regularly.
  • When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible.
  • Buy loose-fitting, comfortable, easy-to-use clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
  • Use a sturdy shower chair to support a person who is unsteady and to prevent falls. You can buy shower chairs at drug stores and medical supply stores.
  • Be gentle and respectful. Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step while you help them bathe or get dressed.
  • Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and give the person enough time to eat.

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Set Up Routines And Expectations

People with dementia dont always believe they need help, so power struggles can ensue over daily tasks, warns Johnston. Clearly defined routines and predictable schedules for tasks such as cleaning and eating may help avoid some conflicts and help you both feel more settled. Orderly, peaceful environments also create calm.

How To Recognize Early Dementia Symptoms

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The Alzheimers Association identifies 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia that can help Alzheimers experts and medical professionals diagnose dementia earlier:

  • Challenges in planning or problem-solving.
  • Changes in mood and personality.
  • Confusion with place or time.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Misplacing objects.
  • Trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images.
  • Withdrawal from social activities.
  • Diagnosing Alzheimers and related forms of dementia early may allow someone experiencing the symptoms access to new drug trials, giving them a broader treatment plan with more options. Additionally, an early diagnosis can help you and your family plan financially and legally for your future.

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    The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey

    Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.

    However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury its a necessity.

    Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.

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    Do Try To Be Pleasant

    Caregivers are also humans who are prone to emotions like anger, stress, impatience, and irritation. Even when one goes through caregiver burnout, it is best that the patient does not get wind of it. It is better to step out of the room and try some breathing exercises to calm down before going back to deal with the dementia patient. Where possible, shelve the bad feelings and try and deal with them later. Dementia patients deal with a lot and they do not need more on their plate if they are to lead fulfilling and happy lives.

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    The Challenges And Rewards Of Alzheimers Care

    Caring for a person with Alzheimers disease or dementia can often seem to be a series of grief experiences as you watch your loved ones memories disappear and skills erode. The person with dementia will change and behave in different, sometimes disturbing or upsetting ways. For both caregivers and their patients, these changes can produce an emotional wallop of confusion, frustration, and sadness.

    As the disease advances through the different stages, your loved ones needs increase, your caregiving and financial responsibilities become more challenging, and the fatigue, stress, and isolation can become overwhelming. At the same time, the ability of your loved one to show appreciation for all your hard work only diminishes. Caregiving can literally seem like a thankless task.

    For many, though, a caregivers journey includes not only huge challenges, but also many rich, life-affirming rewards.

    Caregiving is a pure expression of love. Caring for a person with Alzheimers or dementia connects you on a deeper level. If you were already close, it can bring you closer. If you werent close before, it can help you resolve differences, find forgiveness, and build new, warmer memories with your family member.

    Caregiving can teach younger family members the importance of caring, compassion, and acceptance. Caregiving for someone with dementia is such a selfless act. Despite the stress, demands, and heartache, it can bring out the best in us to serve as role models for our children.

    Why Can’t A Partner Of The Person With Dementia Accept Their Diagnosis

    How to Manage Difficult Behaviors from a Family Member with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

    If the partner of the person with dementia is in denial, they may be worried that their relationship will change.

    It can be very difficult to accept that plans they have made together will also have to change. They may have always relied on the person to do certain tasks and might be worried or scared about having to do these things for themselves.

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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.

    Devise A Daily Routine

    In much the same way that a familiar home environment is reassuring, establishing a daily sequence of tasks and activities also helps keep Alzheimers patients focused and oriented. Begin by observing your loved ones daily routines and looking for patterns in their mood and behavior. This information will help you alter your expectations and optimize your care plan. For example, if they tend to be less confused and more cooperative in the morning, then adapting your routine to make the most of those lucid moments may help the entire day go more smoothly.

    Keep in mind that Alzheimers patients abilities and preferences often fluctuate from day to day, so try to be flexible and adapt as needed. From there, consider incorporating the tips below into your Alzheimers care plan to ensure a long, safe and successful home-based care experience for you and your loved one.

    Read more:The Importance of Creating a Daily Routine for Dementia Patients

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    Relationships Roles And Responsibilities

    Our relationships with the people around us form a central part of our identity. Relationships often change when someone has dementia. People with dementia can easily become isolated or avoided by those around them. They may lose contact with friends and family, who may fear not knowing how to react to them.

    Carers can help by supporting existing relationships and encouraging continued participation in social groups, community activities, religious activities and hobbies. Dementia cafés provide an opportunity to meet other people, talk about living with dementia and participate in group activities in an informal social environment. The GP surgery, local library or council office will also have information about other social groups.

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    Carers and others can also help in creating a dementia-friendly community. This is a community in which local people have an understanding of dementia. It is geared towards empowering people with dementia to feel confident, knowing that they can contribute to their community and participate in activities that are meaningful to them. Carers can do this by involving people with dementia in their own social groups, informing others about the nature of dementia, and challenging mistaken ideas or fear of dementia if, or when, it occurs.

    Maintaining a positive relationship with the person with dementia: tips for carers

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    Understanding What Dementia Really Is

    Caregiving for a Family Member with Alzheimer

    Some carers, friends or family members may not know much about dementia and not recognise the symptoms as being part of the condition.

    It may be useful to talk to them about dementia and help them understand more about how the condition can affect people. You could explain the range of difficulties that a person with the condition can experience.

    It might also be useful for them to attend GP, or other appointments with the person. This may help them to understand better the difficulties that the person is having, as well as helping them to understand dementia more. You could also show them information such as What is dementia?, or 5 things you should know about dementia.

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    Reaching Out For Help

    Unicity Healthcare is licensed as a Healthcare Service Firm by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs . As experts in the homecare field, we understand that no two clients are the same, and, as such, we develop an individualized service plan, incorporating all aspects of the persons life and family. The steps involved in this process is vital in creating the Unicity Homecareapproach, one that stresses personalization, dedication and quality care.

    Unicity Healthcare provides non-medical and medical homecare services to our clients. Our services are customized and range from a few hours per day to 24/7 . Our licensed, trained and experienced Home Health Aides can assist you or your loved one with maintaining a daily routine, from bathing, eating, socializing, or simply going for a walk outside.

    Our mission is to help our clients stay in their familiar surroundings, remain independent and live an active, healthy, and happy life. All our services are provided by licensed aides , and supervised by a Registered Nurse, who, in collaboration with the client and his/her family, develops a customized plan of care. We also keep our clients families updated regularly on the situation of their loved ones, and we provide guidance when necessary.

    Support For Family Caregivers Is Important For Their Well

    Part of living well with Alzheimers is adjusting to your new normal and helping family and friends do the same. Adequate support resources are vital for the individual providing the majority of the care. Experts say that a safety net of support can actually reduce anxiety for caregivers by increasing the perception that resources are available to help handle the stressful situations.

    Support can be found in many different forms, including the help of other family members and close friends, partnerships with health professionals, community resources and other useful tools such as support groups, respite care, help lines, online training assistance and outside professional care.

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    What Are Some Other Typical Dementia Behaviors

    In addition to aggression, confusion, sleep problems and wandering, symptoms of dementia can also include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, apathy and sexual inappropriateness. And, behavioral dementia symptoms tend to occur more frequently as the dementia progresses.

    Up to 90% of patients have one or more of these symptoms during the course of their disease, studies show. It is important to discuss all dementia symptoms with your loved ones physician to rule out or treat any medical conditions that could be causing the behavior.

    Do Not Engage In Arguments

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    One of the worst things a person can do to an individual who has dementia is to start an argument or even force them to do something that makes them upset or angry. When the discussion or argument is too heated, it may be better to walk away to create an environment where everyone can remain calm. Experts agree that one of the ways that can yield results when it comes to dementia behavior problems is to get rid of the word no when dealing with patients. Avoid forcibly restraining a dementia sufferer at all costs.

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    For All Family Members

    Some of the most common feelings families and caregivers experience are guilt, grief and loss, and anger. Rest assured that you are not alone if you find yourself feeling these, too.


    It is quite common to feel guiltyâguilty for the way the person with dementia was treated in the past, guilty at feeling embarrassed by their odd behaviour, guilty for lost tempers or guilty for not wanting the responsibility of caring for a person with dementia.

    If the person with dementia goes into hospital or residential care you may feel guilty that you have not kept him at home for longer, even though everything that could be done has been done. It is common to feel guilty about past promises such as âIâll always look after you,â when this cannot be met.

    Grief and loss

    Grief is a response to loss. If someone close develops dementia, we are faced with the loss of the person we used to know and the loss of a relationship. People caring for partners may experience grief at the loss of the future that they had planned to share together.

    Grief is a very individual feeling and people will feel grief differently at different times. It will not always become easier with the passing of time.


    It is natural to feel frustrated and angryâangry at having to be a caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out, angry at the person with dementia for her difficult behaviours and angry at support services.

    Tips For Managing Dementia Wandering

    The No. 1 priority is to keep your loved one safe, Hashmi says. He suggests the following actions:

    • Secure all doors. Be especially vigilant about doors that lead outside.
    • Use technology. Tracking devices and surveillance systems are widely available and affordable.
    • Enlist a team. Neighborhood watch groups and local police are often happy to help keep an eye out for your loved one.

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    Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia

    Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:

    • Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
    • Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
    • Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
    • Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
    • Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
    • Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
    • Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?


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