Alzheimer’s care requires almost super-human mental ingenuity, something that can be learnt through trial and error and by keeping up to date with latest research, and adapting this knowledge to suit the situation. The more you know the better you are able to cope, the calmer you will be in your everyday tasks and easier your life as a carer will become.
So here are 3 easy tips to dealing with Alzheimer’s that you can start implementing now:
1. Alzheimer’s affects a person’s memory, so avoid saying “You remember Jane, she’s your daughter!” Or, “Remember that lovely holiday we spent in Devon?” The answer, sadly will be “no” again and again, and will only highlight the loss of key memories. Instead of asking questions that lead to frustration and pressure to find an answer, make statements; “This is Jane, she is your daughter,” or “5 years ago you and I went on holiday in Devon”.
2. Work out what the most meaningful object for that person could be. Did they play a musical instrument, shine in a particular sport or did they once love flower arranging or carpentry? Placing a familiar, preferably beloved object in the hands of someone with Alzheimer’s has been known to profoundly affect cognition. They may not remember what to do with it, but they will never forget the feeling it gave them. It may take a few tries to find the right thing, but don’t ever give up trying to find out what it is.
3. In some instances you need to use their loss of memory to your advantage. For instance, someone may unwittingly bring up a topic of conversation, suggest an activity or begin an argument with someone who has Alzheimer’s that sets off upsetting outbursts and behaviour. The best way to deal with this these episodes is to use distraction. Immediately change the subject or lead the person away to show them something else, somewhere else to quickly diffuse any negative situation.
Feeling at a loss and despairing the situation is a choice. The alternative is arming yourself with a whole new set of skills.