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How To Help Someone With Alzheimer’s

Do Not Engage In Arguments

How to Help Someone with Dementia Communicate

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.

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.

Dont Infantilize The Person

Dont talk down to the person or treat them like an infant. This is sometimes called “elderspeak” and it’s got to go.

Have you ever observed how people talk to babies? They might use a high pitched tone and get close to the babys face. While this is appropriate for infants, its not fitting for communicating with adults. Regardless of how much the person with dementia can or cannot understand, treat them with honor and use a respectful tone of voice.

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

Why Is It Important To Keep Dementia Patients Engaged In Daily Activities

A daily routine with healthy activities is important for seniors of any age and especially vital for dementia patients. As dementia worsens over time, the person will find it more difficult to focus and struggle to learn new things. Having a routine in place early on helps give them structure that they find familiar. Additional benefits of having a routine that incorporates engaging activities for a loved one with dementia include:

What Is Anosognosia In Dementia

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Anosognosia is a condition that causes someone to be unaware of their mental health condition and how it affects them. Its common in some conditions, including dementia.

So, someone who has been properly diagnosed with dementia, but has anosognosia, doesnt know or believe that they have dementia.

However, anosognosia symptoms may vary significantly from person to person, change over time, and might even fluctuate within a day.

The person might sometimes understand whats happening and other times firmly believe that theyre completely fine.

And other people might only be partially aware that theres something wrong.

The unawareness of cognitive impairment can be related to memory, general thinking skills, emotions, or physical abilities.

They might have occasional difficulty with language skills, like finding words, but they can explain away these situations with excuses about forgetfulness or fatigue.

And even if they forget to bathe, miss appointments, or burn food on the stove, theyre still likely to insist that they dont need help.

Theyll probably also insist that theyre absolutely capable of living independently despite clear evidence that things are going wrong.

If someone reminds them of their cognitive impairment, someone with anosognosia may get angry and defensive because in their mind theyre 100% convinced that there is no problem.

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Play To Their Strengths

Sometimes memory loss is so devastating that we all forget that there is a person still in there somewhere. Family members can be distraught by what’s missing and forget that there’s still a lot there within the person, and that they have strengths.

They still have long-term memory, so its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find them. It’s interesting that, medically, doctors do tests on other conditions but when it comes to memory loss, it’s often looked at like a switch: Either they got it, or they don’t. Just like everything else, there’s a progression of memory loss, and its up to the caregiver and/or family member to find out where the patient and/or loved one is, and bolster that.

Strength #1: Long-term memory & stories

Everyone has a short-term memory drawer and long-term memory drawer, and we put information in each. People with dementia and/or Alzheimers have a short-term memory drawer that has no bottom. He/she puts things in, and then they get lost. The long-term memory drawer, however, has a solid bottom. Lots of stories that are retrievable await . Encourage your patients and/or loved ones to tell you stories. You can even use photos to encourage stories. Photos are wonderful long-term memory reminders.

Strength #2: Humor & music

Strength #3: Spirituality

Dont Forget To Care For Yourself Too

Joining a carers group can be a good way for you to find people who truly relate to the situation you are in. It is a good place to share and talk it out or learn coping mechanisms others use to care for those with dementia. Social services or a dementia adviser or counselor can direct you to a local group. Alternatively, there are plenty of online support groups you could consider joining.17

When you are close to someone with dementia you may find yourself asking why me. You may also get upset, angry, or frustrated, and possibly even feel guilty about thinking this way. At times, you may feel you are losing the love or affection you have for that person as these emotions take control. On the flip side, you may also feel guilty for taking time out to do something for yourself, or about losing your temper at them or not being kind enough. Dont beat yourself up about it. This is as hard on you as it is on the person you love who has dementia. And you need downtime too. Some of these things could help:18

References

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Tips For Caregivers And Families Of People With Dementia

On this page

A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isnt just one persons job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.

Dont Ask A Person With Short

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A patient and/or loved one can construe even the simplest of conversation starters as a real question, but they honestly dont know the answer to it. This can be embarrassing and can send them back into a fogthey try their best to give an answer that makes sense to them and often produce immediate physical concerns: I’m having a lot of pain, for example. A caregiver and/or family member might ask, What did you have for breakfast? and the person with memory loss doesn’t remember at all. They might say earnestly, I haven’t had anything to eat for weeks, . So these are questions to avoid because it causes fear for the person, that they have failed. But there things you can talk about

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Do Not Shy Away From Asking For Help

No one may have all the answers especially when it comes to taking care of a person with dementia. Try doing research on how their behavior changes and what needs to be done to help them live their lives without too many complications. Hire help when it becomes too much as it also ensures that you do not become too frustrated or drained. When you have multiple family members who can help, ask everyone to pitch in and look after the patient so that you can get some personal space to breathe and re-energize when it is your time to look after the patient. When you feel like you can no longer look after your loved one at your own home, it may be time to consider assisted living. In such case, look into dementia care homes that can provide specially trained professionals.

Do Offer Assurance Often

Many times, people with dementia may experience feelings of isolation, fear, loneliness or confusion. They may not be able to express this in the right way and thus may wander off or keep saying that they want to go back home, especially if they are in a senior living facility. This is not the time to shut them out. Its a good idea to assure them that they are safe and in a good place.

If you are close enough, provide a comforting hug every once in a while and remind them that they are in a place that has their best interest at heart. Where possible, engage in exercise or take a walk as even light physical activity may help to reduce agitation, restlessness and anxiety.

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Resources For Alzheimer’s Care

Explore the Alzheimers.gov portal for information and resources on Alzheimers and related dementias caregiving from across the federal government.Phone: 1-800-438-4380

Alzheimer’s AssociationPhone: 1-800-272-3900

The Alzheimer’s Association offers information, a help line, and support services to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Local chapters across the country offer support groups, including many that help with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Call or go online to find out where to get help in your area. The Association also funds Alzheimer’s research.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of AmericaPhone: 1-866-232-8484

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides information about how to care for people with Alzheimer’s, as well as a list of services for people with the disease. It also offers information for caregivers and their families through member organizations. Services include a toll-free hotline, publications, and other educational materials.

Eldercare LocatorPhone: 1-800-677-1116

Caregivers often need information about community resources, such as home care, adult day care, and nursing homes. Contact the Eldercare Locator to find these resources in your area. The Eldercare Locator is a service of the Administration on Aging. The Federal Government funds this service.

Phone: 1-800-222-2225TTY: 1-800-222-4225

Do Try To Be Pleasant

How to Help Care for Someone with Alzheimer

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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Companies Offering Products For People With Dementia

ADAPTAWear

A company selling clothes which may make it easier to get dressed when you have dementia or dress the person you care for. For example, they sell open back trousers, shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts and nighties.

Contact ADAPTAWear on 0800 051 1931, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Visit adaptawear.com

The Complete Care Shop

The Complete Care Shop offers care equipment for elderly and disabled people, including washing, dressing and comfort aids, and personal care.

Contact The Complete Care Shop on 03330 160 000, 8.30am5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Visit completecareshop.co.uk

NRS Healthcare

A national company selling daily living aids including grab rails, bath seats and eating and drinking aids.

Contact NRS Healthcare on 0345 121 8111 from 8.30am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Visit nrshealthcare.co.uk

Live Better with Dementia

Live Better with Dementia is a website which offers specialised products for people living with dementia. Items range from health and wellbeing products and gifts to mobility and hygiene. It also offers advice and an online community.

Contact Live Better with Dementia on 0203 870 3874 from 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday.

Visit dementia.livebetterwith.com

How Do I Avoid Getting Lost

You may not be able to find your way around as well as you used to, even in familiar places. Take steps to prepare, such as:

  • Ask someone to go with you when you go out. Take directions with you, even if youâre going somewhere youâve been before.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you want to, you can explain that you have a memory problem.

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How The Disease Affects The Brain

Physiologically, dementia and/or Alzheimers affects various parts of the brain, specifically, it affects the brain in such a way that people have a difficult time learning new information. This is why, for a long time into the disease, patients and/or loved ones can remember things that happened a long time ago. They can remember wedding dates, the war they fought in, where they went to high schoolbut they can’t remember the visit that they had with their daughter yesterday. This is because the disease affects certain parts of the brainthe temporal lobeswhich are responsible for helping us learn new things.

The reason theyre able to hold onto the memories that happened a long time ago is because those memories are represented throughout the brain. Long-term memories don’t require just one or two areas of the brainthey’re probably represented in multiple systemsso the disease has to be quite advanced before patients and/or loved ones start losing those memories.

In the brain of someone with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, there are actual holes in the brain that form. In an image of an Alzheimer’s brain, one can see where many of the brain cells have diedand it affects every area of the brain.

Help With Incontinence And Using The Toilet

How to help someone with dementia (HINT: let them help.)

People with dementia may often experience problems with going to the toilet.

Both urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence can be difficult to deal with. It can also be very upsetting for the person you care for and for you.

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.

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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.

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.

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Exercise And Outdoor Activities

  • Dig in the garden. Gardening provides a change of scene and will also ensure you both get some fresh air and exercise. It may be a good idea for the person to have his or her own patch of garden to dig and plant in. Weeding, trimming lawn edges, sweeping paths and general tidying in the garden can all be tasks many people with dementia can cope with. — Activities: A guide for carers of people with dementia, Alzheimer Scotland Twitter:
  • Give chair exercises a try. Face the person and have stimulating music playing with an easy to follow rhythm. You may wish to use music from their era, but it is acceptable to use any kind of music that elicits a positive response. Please remember their preference when selecting music. Design a routine that is repetitive and easy to follow. You may wish to start with 20 minutes and build up to 45 minutes as tolerated. Take lots of breaks. Hand held props held develop hand strength and provides a stimulating visual to follow the leader. — Activity Ideas for Alzheimers/Dementia Residents National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners Twitter:
  • Take a dip in the pool. The other remarkable thing about swimming is that for many people it is associated with happy childhood memories. So swimming can have a very positive affect on an individuals mood. This often lasts longer than just the swim. — Elaine McNish as quoted in Positive impacts of swimming for people living with dementia, Swim England Twitter:
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