Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease presents so many challenges for both his family and caregiver. Relatively, people with any form of dementia like Alzheimer’s Disease, for one, has a developing biological mental health disorder. As the disease progresses, it is making it more and more difficult for them to think clearly, communicate with others, remember things, and take care of themselves.
In addition, dementia can lead to mood swings. It can even change an individual’s behavior and personality. Whether you’re a caregiver or a family member whose main role in life is to provide care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, you’ll find this article helpful. Here, you’ll learn practical tactics when dealing with the disturbing communication difficulties and behavior problems frequently encountered while the care is being provided.
Eventually, it can affect one’s ability to carry out routine daily activities. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 years and above.
10 Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregiver to Deal with a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease
Every person is not born with the knowledge of how to communicate with an individual who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, anyone can learn it. As a dementia caregiver, you can enhance the quality of your relationship with the person you are providing care for. First-time Alzheimer’s caregivers don’t need to worry because Alzheimer’s care can be provided with ease and convenience with these 10 effective ways:
1. Set a positive mood to initiate interaction.
Both your body and attitude communicate your thoughts and feelings more intensely than words can do. Set a positive mood by talking to your loved one in both pleasant and unpleasant ways. In addition, you should also use your facial expression, the tone of your voice, and your physical touch to help send your message. These will also show your affectionate feeling as his or her Alzheimer’s caregiver.
2. Catch the attention of that person.
Limit the noise and distractions. distractions and noise—turn off the radio or TV, close the curtains or shut the door, or move to quieter surroundings. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention; address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused. If she is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.
3. Alzheimer’s caregiving means, in your every conversation with the client, always send your message clearly.
When talking, especially to an elderly individual, use simple words and sentences. Be sure you are speaking slowly, distinctly, and in a confident tone. As much as possible, avoid raising your voice or making it louder. Instead, speak with a lower and more relaxed voice. If the client does not understand the first time you speak, use exactly the same wording to reiterate your message or question.
If after several times of repeating your message or question, and the client still doesn’t understand, wait a few more minutes and rephrase what you said. Use names of places and people instead of using ‘he,’ ‘she’ and ‘they.’ Do not use abbreviations, too.
4. When asking questions, make them simple and easy to answer.
Ask one question at a time. Questions answerable by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are the most effective to ask. Avoid asking open-ended questions or giving the client too many choices. Here is an example: “What do you prefer to wear, your white shirt or your blue shirt?” It would be better if you show the client his or her choices—visual cues and prompts will help clarify your question and can the senior in his or her response.
5. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, listen, do not just hear your client out.
Be patient when waiting for the older adult’s reply. If he or she is struggling for an answer, it’s fine to suggest words. Be careful with body language and nonverbal body cues, and respond appropriately. Always try to listen for both the feelings and meaning underlying the words.
6. Have the activities broken down into a series of steps.
As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, this tip can make numerous tasks more manageable. You can encourage the client to do things he can. Then, gently remind him of the steps he might forget. Assist the senior with the steps he might not be able to do on his own. By using visual cues like showing your hand where to place a plate, you will be able to help an elderly individual.
7. Redirecting and distracting the client if he gets agitated or upset is part of your role as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
Try to change the subject or the environment that’s causing the agitation. For instance, ask the senior for help or suggest walking together outside. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it is vital to connect with your client on a feeling level, prior to redirecting. You may tell him, “I can see you’re feeling sad.” Or, you may say, “I’m sorry you’re upset.” Asking him to accompany you to get something to eat will also help deal with the situation.
8. Being the Alzheimer’s caregiver, when you respond, do it with reassurance and affection.
People with Alzheimer’s and dementia frequently feel anxious, confused and uncertain of themselves. More so, they frequently get confused with reality and tend to recall things that never really took place. Avoid trying to convince the client he is wrong. Focus on the feelings he is demonstrating and respond with both physical and verbal expressions of support, reassurance, and comfort. At times, holding their hands, hugging, touching and praising him will get that person to respond when things don’t go right.
9. Remind the client of the good old days.
Remembering the past is frequently an affirming and relaxing activity. Moreover, lots of people being provided with dementia care may have forgotten what just happened 45 minutes ago. Nevertheless, they can clearly recollect events in their lives 45 years ago. As a result, you should avoid asking questions that depend on short-term memory, like asking the person what he or she had for lunch. Rather, try to ask general questions about the distant past of the person. This information is more likely to be retained.
10. Have your sense of humor maintained.
Use humor whenever needed and possible, although not at the client’s expense. People with Alzheimer’s tend to maintain their social skills. They are also typically delighted to laugh along with you as their Alzheimer’s caregiver.