Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
How To Deal With Dementia Behavior Problems
- How to Deal with Dementia Behavior Problems: 19 Dos and Donts
Dementia is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe every year. It is often a highly misunderstood condition that is marred by numerous misconceptions, which make the condition difficult to understand and study.
You should know that dementia is not a name for an illness, rather it is a collective term that describes a broad range of symptoms that relate to declining of thinking, memory, and cognitive skills. These symptoms have deteriorating effects that usually affect how a patient acts and engages in the day-to-day activities.
In advanced dementia stages, affected persons may experience symptoms that bring out a decline in rational thought, intellect, social skills, memory, and normal emotional reactivity. It is something that can make them powerless when it comes to living normal, healthy lives.
Relatives, caregivers, spouses, siblings, children and anyone close to a person who has dementia need to know how to deal with behavioral problems that surface because of the illness. Examples of dementia problems may include aggressiveness, violence and oppositional behaviors. Find out some of the vital Do and Donts when dealing with a dementia patient.
Develop Helpful Daily Routines
Having general daily routines and activities can provide a sense of consistency for an Alzheimers or dementia patient and help ease the demands of caregiving. Of course, as your loved ones ability to handle tasks deteriorates, youll need to update and revise these routines.
Keep a sense of structure and familiarity. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orientate the person with dementia. Use cues to establish the different times of dayopening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing soothing music at night to indicate bedtime.
Involve your loved one in daily activities as much as theyre able. For example, they may not be able to tie their shoes, but may be able to put clothes in the hamper. Clipping plants in the yard may not be safe, but they may be able to weed, plant, or water.
Vary activities to stimulate different sensessight, smell, hearing, and touchand movement. For example, you can try singing songs, telling stories, dancing, walking, or tactile activities such as painting, gardening, or playing with pets.
Spend time outdoors. Going for a drive, visiting a park, or taking a short walk can be very therapeutic. Even just sitting outside can be relaxing.
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Effects On The Caregiver
For the primary caregiver, Alzheimers disease may have as great an impact on their daily life as it does on the loved one they care for. The role of caregiver not only affects how the person spends their time but also their overall health and well-being. Full-time caregivers often suffer from stress, depression, high-blood pressure and other physical ailments brought about by the exertion and exhaustion of providing constant care unless they take good care of their own mental and physical health.
Whether the primary caregiver is the spouse or adult child of their loved one with Alzheimers, the alterations that caregiving causes in the relationship can take their emotional toll. A spouse may struggle with the loss of intimacy brought on by the disease and a child may face the challenges of caring for someone who used to be their greatest source of support. While Alzheimers disease alters these close relationships, its important for caregivers to find help and support to take care of their own needs as well as their loved ones.
How To Deal With Stubbornness In An Alzheimers Patient
If you are a primary caregiver for an Alzheimers patient, you know how difficult it can be to provide excellent care and support around the clock. Many Alzheimers patients go through stubborn phases and make it extremely difficult for you to do your job.
The vast majority of unwillingness happens during intimate activities the patient has been accustomed to doing on his or her own most of their life. These activities include using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing. However, more serious reactions can also occur because of sudden changes in environment or family stressors.
While these negative reactions can have a toll on caregivers , it is important to not take these events personally. It is not about you in these situations and more often than not, stubbornness is a result of fear or anxiety in the Alzheimers patient. They may not be trying to be difficult, and the resistance is instead a form of communication when words fail them. If you are open to their various forms of communication, you can find the root cause of the resistance and help them through it more comfortably.
The following are some helpful tips on how to more effectively deal with stubbornness in your loved one.
It may be up to you to identify that cause and reduce stubbornness triggers moving forward. It can be extremely trying, but finding ways to work with the patient and improve communication can also be very rewarding.
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Coping With Changes In Behavior And Personality
As well as changes in communication during the middle stages of dementia, troubling behavior and personality changes can also occur. These behaviors include aggressiveness, wandering, hallucinations, and eating or sleeping difficulties that can be distressing to witness and make your role as caregiver even more difficult.
Often, these behavioral issues are triggered or exacerbated by your loved ones inability to deal with stress, their frustrated attempts to communicate, or their environment. By making some simple changes, you can help ease your loved ones stress and improve their well-being, along with your own caregiving experience.
Tips For Home Safety For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimers or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
- If you have stairs, make sure there is at least one handrail. Put carpet or safety grip strips on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so they are more visible.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets and consider safety latches on cabinet doors.
- Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items the person may trip over.
- Make sure all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have good lighting.
- Remove curtains and rugs with busy patterns that may confuse the person.
- Remove or lock up cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches.
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Alzheimer ‘s Disease : The Most Common Form Of Dementia
of Alzheimer disease, especially adults who have a family member in late adulthood. If people were to have knowledge on how to help or treat someone who has Alzheimer disease it would be beneficial for both of them and it would make living together much easier. Many people dont know what Alzheimer disease is Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia. The risk of AD increases with age . As someone ages they are most likely to get Alzheimer disease, this due to generalized
Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
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How To Deal With Alzheimers Disease
Unfortunately, to date, there has been no specific drug to treat Alzheimers. The drugs available only serve to alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
For Alzheimers that is still in its early stages, doctors usually prescribe drugs such as donepezil or rivastigmine .
These drugs can help maintain levels of acetylcholine or a neurotransmitter that helps memory in the brain.
To treat moderate to severe Alzheimers, doctors usually prescribe donepezil or memantine .
Memantine can help block the effects of excess glutamate or brain-destroying chemicals that are typically produced in large quantities in Alzheimers patients.
Doctors can also provide antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or antipsychotics to help treat Alzheimers-related symptoms. These symptoms can be:
Tips For Changes In Communication And Behavior For People With Dementia
Communication can be hard for people with Alzheimers and related dementias because they have trouble remembering things. They also can become agitated and anxious, even angry. In some forms of dementia, language abilities are affected such that people have trouble finding the right words or have difficulty speaking. You may feel frustrated or impatient, but it is important to understand that the disease is causing the change in communication skills. To help make communication easier, you can:
- Reassure the person. Speak calmly. Listen to his or her concerns and frustrations. Try to show that you understand if the person is angry or fearful.
- Allow the person to keep as much control in his or her life as possible.
- Respect the persons personal space.
- Build quiet times into the day, along with activities.
- Keep well-loved objects and photographs around the house to help the person feel more secure.
- Remind the person who you are if he or she doesnt remember, but try not to say, Dont you remember?
- Encourage a two-way conversation for as long as possible.
- Try distracting the person with an activity, such as a familiar book or photo album, if you are having trouble communicating with words.
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If A Loved One Has Been Diagnosed With Alzheimers Or Dementia
If someone close to you has been diagnosed with dementia, youll be dealing with a host of difficult emotions. You may be grieving for your loved one, especially if significant memory loss is already present. Its important to allow timefor yourself and your loved oneto come to terms with the news. Encourage your loved one to open up about what theyre feeling and make yourself available whenever theyre ready to talk.
When talking to someone about their dementia diagnosis, dont resort to platitudes such as telling them to stay positive or comparing their situation to someone elses. Allow them to honestly express their emotions, even if its difficult to hear, or they become angry and upset. Remember, you dont have to provide answers, just a listening ear and a hug or a tender touch to let them know you care.
Learn about dementia. Understanding what to expect will help you plan for care and transitions and recognize your loved ones capabilities throughout each stage of the disease. Despite its many challenges, caregiving for a loved one can also be a deeply rewarding experience.
Involve your loved one in decision-making for as long as possible. In the early stages, support your loved ones independence and self-care, but be prepared for their cognitive and physical regression to ultimately require 24-hour care.
Do Keep Eye Contact When Speaking
Communicating with a dementia patient requires a lot of patience, especially during later stages of dementia. It is vital to ensure that you talk in a place that has good lighting, a place that is quiet and without too many distractions. Do not try and stand over the person you are talking to, but rather try to be at their level and keep eye contact at all times. Take care to make sure that body language is relaxed and open. Prepare to spend quality time with the person so that they do not feel rushed or like they are a bother.
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How To Manage Repeated Questions And Confusion
Asking questions over and over again, as well as not being able to understand why things are happening are symptoms and behaviors that come with dementia, according to the American Psychological Association.
- Communicate with simple, direct language.
- Use photos and other tangible items as props to explain situations.
- Remain calm and supportive.
- Use tools such as alarms, calendars, and to-do lists to help them remember tasks.
- Rely on lengthy explanations and reasoning, as this may further overwhelm your family member.
Do Make Sure That The Dementia Patient Gets Enough Rest Food And Water
Fatigue, hunger and thirst may cause combativeness. Ensure that the person with dementia is well fed, hydrates enough, and gets adequate sleep and rest. In line with this, they should also have enough bathroom breaks. Research also shows that it may help to reduce loud noises as well as clutter in the space where the patient spends most of his/her time, as both loud noises and clutter tend to over-stimulate people with dementia.
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Take Courses Or Read Guides
People can attend courses in person or do ones online that cover topics ranging from the early signs of Alzheimers to behavioral changes and financial planning.
These more comprehensive guides include step-by-step tips on how to help someone bathe, eat, and more.
Get Legal Affairs In Order
Designate someone to serve as your power of attorney for healthcare and as your financial power of attorney. Formalizing this with the appropriate documents gives those you select the legal power to carry out your desires if you are unable to do so.
You may also want to complete a living will to help your patient advocate know what your preferences are regarding healthcare decisions.
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Support For Family And Friends
Currently, many people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for at home by family members. Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.
Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimers disease at home can be a difficult task and may become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimers disease often need more intensive care.
Tips To Dealing With Aggressive Alzheimers Disease Or Dementia Behavior
We recommend trying these nine strategies to help de-escalate dangerous situations and prevent them from happening in the future:
1. Stay calm and use a gentle tone: Its essential to remain calm in the face of aggressive behaviour from an older adult. If you get upset too, the situation will only get worse. Breathe slowly and keep your tone soft and reassuring. A gentle touch on the arm or shoulder, if appropriate, can also help diffuse the situation.
2. Validate their feelings: Everyone wants to feel validated when theyre angry or upset. Older adults also need validation, but due to declining cognitive abilities, they may not be able to articulate whats bothering them. Even if you dont know the cause of the behaviour, reassure them that its okay for them to feel the way they do and that youre there to help.
3. Avoid escalating the situation: Sometimes, simply staying quiet and giving that person some room is all you need to de-escalate and calm the situation. Avoid the urge to argue, talk back, or stop them from doing what theyre doing . Listening and observing will give you an opportunity to further understand the person and hopefully discover the trigger of the behaviour.
4. Make sure the person isnt in pain: Pain or other forms of physical discomfort can be causing aggressive behaviour. Check to see if they need medication for existing conditions that can cause pain, such as gout or arthritis, if they need to use the toilet, or if theyre uncomfortable.
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