People with Alzheimer live with a constant feeling of wrongness,
but cannot pinpoint why.
People with Alzheimer’s disease live in a constant state of confusion and fear. Many are aware that something is off in their lives but can’t quite put their finger on what the problem is. They struggle, search and stress over the missing pieces and often their battle with confusion is overwhelming to them and their families.
Caregivers who work with people with Alzheimer’s disease need to be flexible and diligent. The AD patient’s physical and emotional needs change frequently and without warning. The first priority of the Caregiver to make sure they provide safety and security. A person with Alzheimer’s lives in constant anxiety and knowing that their Caregiver is focused on caring for them physically and mentally will help them relax.
Speak Slowly – Slowing down and remaining calm will help those with Alzheimer’s do the same. Avoid phrases that remind them of their problems. It does not help to remind them that they cannot do something or had already asked a question. Redirect the situation to avoid adding frustration to the patient’s confusion.
Use Declarative Sentences – Speaking in short to-the-point sentences conveys information in an easy to understand manner. Avoid long explanations of why something can’t happen or why someone is missing. Overwhelming the patient with information can be counterproductive and frustrating.
Touch – Much is conveyed in a simple touch. Holding hands, touching an arm or giving a hug will help send the message of love and acceptance, which in turn can help the patient relax.
Schedule the Day – Working within a set schedule can help the Alzheimer’s patient. Finding the best time of day for specific tasks and keeping to that general timetable is one way to keep a sense of order intact. Avoid planning too much around the evening as many find those with Alzheimer’s tend to be more agitated at that time.
Get Outside – Those with Alzheimer’s benefit from getting plenty of sunlight and exercise.
Socialize – Generally those with Alzheimer’s disease pull away from their established relationships out of fear or embarrassment over their cognitive problems. Encouraging and providing opportunity to interact with others is very important to keep the AD patient from becoming isolated.
Get Active – Find activities to engage the Alzheimer’s patient. Often simple things such as sorting or organizing can help calm the confusion of the patient’s mind.
Chart the Day – Keeping a running record of the day can help the Caregiver see patterns and correct problems. Daily record eating habits, activities, and incidents to see if there is a connection between agitation and some event. Avoiding anxiety triggers is important and so charting to find those triggers is essential.
As a Caregiver to a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to continue learning and adapting to provide proper care. Caregivers must be mindful of how confused and afraid those with Alzheimer’s disease generally are, and provide the security and love to help ease their troubled minds.
Kate McCarthy is Director of Operations for HomeAid Health Care which provides services for the elderly who wish to remain safe and independent at home. HomeAid is sister company to Prairie Home Assisted Living which has served the physical, spiritual, mental and health needs of their Residents since 1999. Together the two family owned companies provide comprehensive care for the elderly in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin.