Make Time For Reflection
At each new stage of dementia, you have to alter your expectations about what your loved one is capable of. By accepting each new reality and taking time to reflect on these changes, you can better cope with the emotional loss and find greater satisfaction in your caregiving role.
Keep a daily journal to record and reflect on your experiences. By writing down your thoughts, you can mourn losses, celebrate successes, and challenge negative thought patterns that impact your mood and outlook.
Count your blessings. It may sound counterintuitive in the midst of such challenges, but keeping a daily gratitude list can help chase away the blues. It can also help you focus on what your loved one is still capable of, rather than the abilities theyve lost.
Value what is possible. In the middle stages of dementia, your loved one still has many abilities. Structure activities to invite their participation on whatever level is possible. By valuing what your loved one is able to give, you can find pleasure and satisfaction on even the toughest days.
Improve your emotional awareness. Remaining engaged, focused, and calm in the midst of such tremendous responsibility can challenge even the most capable caregivers. By developing your emotional awareness skills, however, you can relieve stress, experience positive emotions, and bring new peace and clarity to your caretaking role.
Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia
We arenât born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementiaâbut we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.
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.
Also Check: Does Prevagen Help Dementia
Alzheimers Disease Supportive Services Program
From 1992 until 2018, ADSSP grants supported state efforts to expand the availability of community-level supportive services to persons living with ADRD and their caregivers. The program began as the Alzheimer’s Disease Demonstration Grants to States, and was created by Section 398 of the Public Health Services Act. ADSSP evolved over the years, moving from innovative practices and evidence-based grants to programs focusing on building dementia capability within state systems. In its latter years, efforts funded by ADSSP focused on the development of systems that ensure access to sustainable, integrated long-term services and supports capable of meeting the needs of persons living with ADRD and their caregivers. The services and supports helped many individuals with ADRD remain independent and healthy in the community.
States that benefited from the ADSSP grant program included the following activities in their programs:
Do Not Try And Alter Undesirable Behavior
Lack of understanding may push one to try and change or stop any undesirable behavior from patients who have dementia. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to teach new skills or even reason with the patient. Try instead to decrease frequency or intensity of the behavior. For instance, respond to emotion and not the changes in behavior. If a patient insists on always asking about a particular family member reassure them that he or she is safe and healthy as a way of keeping them calm and happy.
Also Check: Can I Buy Jelly Drops For Dementia
Learn About Burnout In Alzheimers Caregivers
Dementia care is incredibly demanding and emotionally challenging. Deciding to care for a loved one with Alzheimers at home is a huge decision that affects all aspects of a family caregivers life. Taking steps to prioritize self-care is crucial for your well-being and that of your care recipient.
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.
Recommended Reading: Neurotransmitters Involved In Alzheimer’s
Recommended Activities For Dementia And Alzheimers Patients At Home
The best activities for dementia and Alzheimers patients are ones that are mentally engaging without being overwhelming or stressful. If the activities have a calming physical component to them, thats even better.
Since every person and every memory care patient is different, the activities they respond to will be different as well. Generally, the things a person enjoyed before will be a guide for what they may enjoy now. Scientifically speaking, this is a result of the long-term memories being less affected by memory illnesses than short-term memories, but practically speaking, people just like what they like regardless of their illness.
Repetitive Speech Or Actions
People with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question, or activity over and over. While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be annoying and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear, or environmental factors.
- Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.
- Try distracting with a snack or activity.
- Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question. Try ignoring the behavior or question, and instead try refocusing the person into an activity such as singing or âhelpingâ you with a chore.
- Donât discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.
- You may want to try placing a sign on the kitchen table, such as, âDinner is at 6:30â or âLois comes home at 5:00â to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.
- Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.
You May Like: Is Bobby Knight Still Alive
Recognize When Alzheimers Patients Need A Higher Level Of Care
In later stages of the disease, caring for an Alzheimers patient at home often becomes too demanding, dangerous and expensive. Family caregivers must respect their personal limits, recognize serious changes in their loved ones condition, and learn about alternative Alzheimers care options that may be more appropriate as daily needs increase.
Arrange The Food On The Plate
You may need to experiment with different sizes, textures and flavours of food to see which the person responds to the best. Here are some tips to help you change things up:
- Add variety in the colour of food different colour vegetables help to really brighten up the plate.
- Try less quantities of food and fewer individual items on the plate.
- Think about what types of food they have always enjoyed in the past. Put it on the plate with another food right next to it.
- Cut up the food into small pieces.
- Change the texture of the food potatoes could be mashed, boiled, baked for example.
Also Check: Alzheimer’s Purple Color Code
Tips To Help Manage Dementia Sleep Problems
There are ways to help your loved on get a better nights sleep, Hashmi says.
Avoid things that disrupt sleep.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar near bedtime.
- Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids. Instead, Hashmi suggests you talk to a doctor about whether melatonin might help your loved one sleep.
- Remove electronics from the bedroom.
Create a routine that supports sleep.
- Make sure your loved one gets enough daytime light to help with circadian rhythms.
- Change into comfortable clothing, signaling nighttime.
- Consider warm milk, a hot shower, relaxing music or reading before bed.
- Pick a bedtime not too late and stick with it every night.
Improve Your Lifestyle For Alzheimers Prevention
Healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimer’s. Consider the following steps to help prevent Alzheimers.
Exercise. “The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slow the progression in people who have symptoms,” says Dr. Marshall. “The recommendation is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week.”
Eat a Mediterranean diet. “This has been shown to help thwart Alzheimer’s or slow its progression. A recent study showed that even partial adherence to such a diet is better than nothing, which is relevant to people who may find it difficult to fully adhere to a new diet,” says Dr. Marshall. The diet includes fresh vegetables and fruits whole grains olive oil nuts legumes fish moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy moderate amounts of red wine and red meat only sparingly.
Get enough sleep. “Growing evidence suggests that improved sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s and is linked to greater amyloid clearance from the brain,” says Dr. Marshall. Aim for seven to eight hours per night.
You May Like: What Color Is The Dementia Ribbon
Keep Up Social Connections Just 10 Minutes A Day Can Help
Things like music therapy or just playing some pleasing, quiet music, a massage, or exercise can help the mood and behavior of some people with dementia. Unfortunately, the research on these alternative therapies is not far-reaching enough to suggest them as treatment or therapy for dementia patients, but you could see if these work for your loved one.11
Encourage people to visit and meet with the patient. Sometimes the embarrassment or fear of others seeing the changed behavior, personality, and memory of the individual can be discouraging when it comes to having visitors. Overcome this, because these relationships are crucial. Keep up their routines and hobbies and interests as much as possible. If they were a weekly church-goer, go to church with them. If they liked walking in the park every evening, they should continue to do so, but with someone to help them if they forget their way home. Keep up as much of a semblance of normalcy as you can. As one study found, the impact this can have is huge! Researchers found that dementia patients who indulged in as little as 60 minutes of conversation every week which translates to an average of 8.5 minutes a day saw reduced agitation levels. This also cut down the perception of pain they were living with.12
Keep Things Simpleand Other Tips
Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimers-related changes in personality and behavior, but they can learn to cope with them. Here are some tips:
- Keep things simple. Ask or say one thing at a time.
- Have a daily routine, so the person knows when certain things will happen.
- Reassure the person that he or she is safe and you are there to help.
- Focus on his or her feelings rather than words. For example, say, You seem worried.
- Dont argue or try to reason with the person.
- Try not to show your frustration or anger. If you get upset, take deep breaths and count to 10. If its safe, leave the room for a few minutes.
- Use humor when you can.
- Give people who pace a lot a safe place to walk. Provide comfortable, sturdy shoes. Give them light snacks to eat as they walk, so they dont lose too much weight, and make sure they have enough to drink.
- Try using music, singing, or dancing to distract the person.
- Ask for help. For instance, say, Lets set the table or I need help folding the clothes.
Read Also: Alzheimers Awareness Ribbons
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
Research Alzheimers Behaviors And How To Manage Them
Sundowning and Sleep Problems
Many people with Alzheimers become restless, agitated, and irritable in the late afternoons and evenings. This is referred to as sundowning, sundowners or sundown syndrome. Explore these suggestions for managing the mood and behavior changes and poor sleep that occur due to sundowning.
- Encourage exercise and more physically demanding activities earlier in the day, as it tends to improve sleep quality. For example, move stimulating or stressful activities like bathing to the morning.
- Limit naps later in the day, but make sure the person gets adequate rest. Fatigue can increase the likelihood of late-afternoon restlessness and exacerbate sundowning.
- Set a quiet, peaceful tone in the evening by limiting family activities and other distractions. Eliminate loud noises, play soothing music, and minimize television watching, as it can be stimulating.
- Ensure the home remains well lit if darkness and shadows appear to trigger fear, pacing or other sundowning behaviors.
Hallucinations and Delusions
As the disease progresses, an older adult with Alzheimers disease may experience hallucinations and/or delusions. Learning how to respond to these symptoms is a critical component of Alzheimers care and often takes lots of practice.
Recommended Reading: What Color Is Alzheimer’s Ribbon
Be Patient While Trying To Help Someonewith Dementia Not Eating
Trying to convince a person living with dementia who is at the point of not eating, that they must eat is counterproductive. Trying to explain why is also detrimental.
You need to be the food guide. Your role as the guide is to show this person how to eat each and every bite, just like its the first time they have ever eaten. Keep using strong eye contact and a nice big smile and not disrupt the person by talking.
It can be frustrating when you are trying to help someone and it is not working as effectively as you may hope. Its like teaching a child to tie their shoelaces, or of course, to eat their vegetables!
They will watch how you do it and slowly copy, but if you dont show them a demonstration they are not going to be able to learn. If you find yourself becoming agitated, take a deep breathe, and have another try.
If your relative with dementia becomes agitated or frustrated in the afternoon and evening, this may be due to ‘sundowning’. Find out more about what it is and how you can manage it from our sundowning guide.
Caregiver Support Is A Phone Call Away
Talk to caring people for practical caregiving information and help finding local resources/services.
If the person you care for asks questions repeatedly, has trouble performing simple tasks, or forgets recent events, he or she may have a form of dementia.
There are several causes for dementia, so you should have the person diagnosed by a doctor.
Some dementia may be caused by factors that can be treated, such as drug interactions, severe diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or depression. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. It is not curable.
There are many helpful resources for family caregivers coping with dementia, including:
Read Also: Alzheimer’s Color Ribbon
Help With Incontinence And Using The Toilet
People with dementia may often experience problems with going to the toilet.
Problems can be caused by:
- urinary tract infections
- constipation, which can cause added pressure on the bladder
- some medicines
Sometimes the person with dementia may simply forget they need the toilet or where the toilet is.
What Support Is Available For Me If I Care For Someone With Dementia
When youre caring for someone else, it can be easy to overlook your own needs. But looking after your health and making time for yourself can help you feel better and more able to cope with your caring role.
Caring for someone with dementia can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion or anger. Unlike with other conditions, it can be difficult to share these feelings with someone with dementia, leaving you feeling very isolated.
Its important to acknowledge these feelings, and to remember that theres no right or wrong way to feel. If youre feeling anxious or depressed, or you’re struggling to cope, talk to your doctor who can let you know about the help and support available to you.
Don’t Miss: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s