Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can often feel like an endless guessing game. Wouldn't it be nice to have a handbook that provided all the answers for caring for dementia when needed? The various periods of the disease that need to be worked through make it increasingly challenging; the instant we begin to feel fairly skilled at handling one phase, we’re on to the next.
At Midnight Sun Home Care, we know firsthand precisely how tough dementia care can be, and present the following strategies to keep in mind that may help:
- Allow yourself to be human. Being human means being imperfect. Expect that there will be moments you wish you could do over and other moments when you have sufficient patience to make wise decisions. Be sure to remind yourself that you are doing your best; and make sure you are also caring for yourself.
- Redirecting works better than correcting. When somebody with dementia is confused, using reasoning to try to reorient the person can result in aggravation for both of you. For instance, if the individual is looking for a childhood buddy, rather than explaining that this buddy passed away 20 years ago, ask the person to tell you more information about the friend or to talk about a fun adventure they shared.
- Accept alternate realities. As a society that places a high value on honesty, the thought of being untruthful with an older loved one goes against our grain. However, if the older adult truly thinks he’s the author of the book you’re reading, it’s often a good option to simply play along and keep the peace.
- Be realistic about what the older adult can and cannot do. Although our temptation may be to take charge and take over everything for someone with dementia, it’s far better to pause and see what he or she is still able to do independently. Similarly, if the individual starts to experience agitation over a task, it’s time for you to step up and help.
- Doctors can learn something new, too. Don't forget to talk about everything you’re seeing in your loved one with the doctor during medical visits. He or she can only deliver the best treatment plan when all of the details are on the table.
Most of all, it’s critical for family members caring for loved ones with dementia to develop a strong system of support. Midnight Sun Home Care in Anchorage, AK, is available to partner with you in caring for dementia; contact us for more details.