“Some of the things Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Caregivers shouldn’t do”
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is hard work. You may have to deal with personality changes
and difficult behaviours. You may be asked the same question repeatedly over and over again.
You typically face problems with bathing, dressing and toileting.
Your loved one may wander off if you aren’t attentive.
you may have to grapple with the decision to place your loved one in a long-term care facility, and the list goes on and on.
But the most painful thing
you will ever face as an Alzheimer’s caregiver is that you slowly lose the person you love to the illness.
If you read books, attend presentations and
talk to experts about Alzheimer’s and Dementia caregiving you’ll get a seemingly unending string of advice. Some suggestions will be good others won’t be very sound. What I want to do is to offer some ideas about things Alzheimer’s
and Dementia caregivers should never do.
“Don’t Be in Denial”
When a loved one shows signs of dementia it’s painful to acknowledge it. It’s common for
their friends and loved ones to be in denial. It’s easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, push the symptoms to the back of your mind and find other ways to avoid thinking even for a minute that the person may have dementia.
The problem with denial is it doesn’t lead you to take
your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete check-up. And the problem with that is that sometimes dementia is caused by health issues other than Alzheimer’s.
“What If it’s Not Alzheimer’s?” some of those problems can be treated or even reversed. And if it is Alzheimer’s the earlier treatment is started, the better.
v “Don’t Ask “Do You Remember?”
Asking a person with Alzheimer’s if they remember something is a common mistake that’s easy to make. It’s almost as though we think we can jog their
memory. But it doesn’t work like that. They have probably forgotten the event or events in question. That’s what people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia do, they forget.
So it’s better to say, “I remember when…” and then “Tell them” the story memory you’re referring to.
v “Don’t Argue With or Challenge the Person”
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s so easy to contradict or argue with them when they say things that are total nonsense. And they characteristically say a lot of things that fall into this category. They may think they
are a child again or they may tell you stories that couldn’t possibly be true.
But the fact of the matter is that you can never win an argument with people
who have dementia. They will stick to their guns to the bitter end! It’s much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument that would spoil your time with your loved one. Tolerance is the byword
v “Don’t Delay Nursing Home Placement
When It’s obviously Needed”
At some point in the disease process it may (but not always) become evident that you can no longer care for
the person at home. Later in the development of the disease, it takes a village to care for Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients. They’ll likely need a nursing staff and aids for 24 hours a day and a doctor on call at all times.
They also need a dietician, a cook, a housekeeper, an activity director and many more professionals. Another important thing they need is to have people around them to provide social stimulation
v “Don’t Stop
When Your Loved One No Longer Recognize You”
Many people think that there’s no purpose to visit a loved one who no longer recognizes them,
but I am firmly convinced that you should always visit.
First of all, the person may enjoy being visited even if he or she doesn’t quite know who is visiting
them. More importantly, it’s possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn’t able to say so; this might sound strange but remember that the Alzheimer’s and Dementia mind works in strange ways.
We never know whom Alzheimer’s patients do or don’t not recognize us but I’m a great believer in that somewhere deep down they do still have some inner recognition but just
can’t spesck out about it, although there’s no way to know for sure but my conviction is that the person is really “Still in there somewhere” so we should always assume that the person may know and feel more than he or she can actually