Living with Dementia -6 Tips for Caregivers

…a 3 min read

Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia it’s like an Iron Man race you can’t train for, and where tempo and speed shift on you with no heads up, warning, and you have to be ready.

Needless to say caregiving for someone with dementia will either evolve you as a human being, or it will consume you.

What outcome awaits you will depend solely on your ability to adapt and execute some of the strategies and tactics you’ll learn here today.

So let’s get started!

The first thing you need to realize is that there is a right and a wrong way to do this, in spite of the fact that every case is completely different.

The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to: 

checkmarkDUMP YOUR LOGIC – I don’t care how smart you think or actually are, there is no logic or reasoning when dealing with a demented loved one, there’s only love and dealing in the moment.

The goal?   Peace and tranquility.

Your Mom’s World is upside down, nothing makes sense, don’t try to explain to her why she shouldn’t brush her hair with a dirty spoon… don’t get yourself off kilter, just hand her a brush and give her a hug!

checkmarkSTICK TO A ROUTINE SCHEDULE – Keep activity levels in sync with her mood and behavior. If she’s gets restless and cranky in the evenings then create a relaxed environment at that time. If she’s lucid and engaging in the mornings, then plan for complex tasks like, bathing, and going to doctor’s appointments.

You may be wondering why bother with a schedule …She doesn’t remember anything anyway!

You are right, she probably won’t remember the scheduled routine, but she won’t be surprised by it either, and when it comes to dementia patients the one thing you don’t want are surprises! 

checkmarkDON’T FORGET, IT’S A DISEASE – Your mom’s brain is irreparably damaged, she hasn’t only lost her memory but the ability to process any kind of thought, feeling, or sensation. What you may think is “being nice to her” she may interpret as an aggression and a personal attack.

She’s not reverting to childhood, a child remembers not to stick their finger in the wall outlet again, and feels safe in your embrace, not threatened and paranoid. Your mom’s world isn’t just fading, it’s pure chaos, fear and confusion, and she doesn’t understand why. Her world and reality are distorted.

Remember it’s a disease, it’s not happening to you, it’s not about you …she has a disease! 

checkmarkREMAIN CALM, PATIENT AND COOL – This one Jedi mind trick is your secret weapon and we talked about it here before. But it’s true!

Every day you are being tested, tried, and weighed. Every day could be less, just as, or completely loaded and stressful compared to the day before. Every day you will come face to face with feelings of guilt, anger, remorse, exhaustion and despair.

Your number one weapon is to stay calm, breathe deep, and count to 10 out loud or as many times as you have to. You will develop patience, tolerance and who knows …even a sense of humor!

Also, you and your Mom are connected …as you go usually so goes her. When you are calm, so is she, when you are frustrated she will feel the same way. There’s a transfer of energy, it’s up to you whether it’s going to be good or bad energy. 

checkmarkSIMPLIFY HER WORLD – Complexity is bad, simplicity is good. So, having a minimalistic approach to dealing with dementia, meaning:

 

  • Get rid of clutter.
  • Open walkways around the most frequent areas she hangs out at.
  • Keep items she frequently uses handy and in the same place.
  • Ask easy-to-answer direct questions.
  • Don’t make loud noises.
  • Get rid of unneeded furniture. 

checkmarkMISDIRECT HER ATTENTION – Many times, especially doing a tantrum you may want to change the conversation, to do that ask a simple to answer question or play a familiar song. The idea is to use her forgetfulness to your advantage.

Since your Mom pretty much lives in the now, it’s easy to get her to focus on something different that diverts her attention from whatever is bothering her at the moment.

Once you get good at this it will save you a lot of pain and frustration, when it works it works like a charm.

These are just a few of many tactics you can use to manage the day to day of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Every case is different, but in every case the battle will be fought with brains, but won with heart!

I hope this helps, and as always, if you need someone to talk to, reach out …we are here for you!

 

claudioalegreClaudio Alegre is the Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Advocate off the Web.  He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys. He’s passionate about healthcare and all things caregiving. He can be reached at calegre@angelhcs.com or directly at 305.220.4544

 

 

 

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