4 Tips About Caring for An Alzheimer’s Patient
patient and caregiver out for a walk

Caring for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s is one of the most taxing for caregivers. To best look after your patient, you need to obtain as much knowledge about the disease as you possibly can. Even if you read every book out there, you’ll still be shocked with the unpredictable and sensitive nature of Alzheimer’s patients. In addition to their behavior, you’ll have to bear with their inability to communicate adequately and express how they feel, which makes the job even more difficult.

Here are some tips that can help you out

Acceptance

It’s tough watching the mental decline of a loved one but at some point, you’re going to need to accept that your loved one is now being affected by an irreversible condition – there is nothing you can do to bring themselves to their normal selves. What you CAN do is slow down the process and make these years as comfortable for them as possible.

Part of accepting that your loved one has Alzheimer’s is quit asking them the question “Do you remember?” They don’t – and it isn’t their fault. By forcing them to remember something that they can’t (because they are mentally incapable of it) will only cause further frustration.

Acceptance also means accepting that this person you are now looking after, isn’t the person you once knew. Again, it’s important to remind yourself that this mental deterioration is no fault of their own – they are helpless. There’s an element of loss that arises with Alzheimer’s, it puts family caregivers in an awkward place. On one hand you have to accept that your loved one isn’t the same but you have to remember that this IS the person you love, whether they remember it or not.

Connect with the patient

It may be easier to just let the patients be on their own because of how aggravating managing them can get but don’t let their anger outbursts intimidate you. Choosing to let the patient be alone with their confused thoughts will only lead them to isolation and eventually depression – both of which will worsen their condition.

You need to find ways of connecting with patients in a way that doesn’t stress them out. Try using meaningful items in their hands. Try placing a photo from a family vacation in their hands to see if they respond. Don’t ask anything at the beginning, see if the photo captures their interest. You may need to help them out a little by providing a few hints. If you don’t see them respond then move onto the next meaningful item. Don’t pressure them and don’t let the fact that they don’t remember weigh down on you.

Try communicating with your loved one through therapy. Alzheimer’s patients are unable to express themselves with words as their language abilities are one of the first to be affected by their disease. Look into pet, music and art therapy to get them to open up to and unleash some of what goes on in their minds.

Do not upset them

Can you imagine what it must feel like to just have remnants of your life and the people in it floating around in your head? Obviously, Alzheimer’s patients experience immense confusion and have a tough time trusting those around them. No one seems to understand what they are going through and they aren’t able to explain it. On top of that, people around them are always asking them to perform tasks which they aren’t usually able to do. Of course, they are going to be frustrated.

It’s important for caregivers to try and understand what Alzheimer’s patients are going through. You don’t need to understand it completely but you need to be able to empathize with them at the least.

Don’t make the situation worse in any way. This means that you need to avoid arguing with them because it will irritate them and force them to act out. You can’t win an argument with a person that isn’t going to make logical sense – so don’t bother, they won’t understand. It will cause them to become distrusting for you and can force them to become withdrawn.

Avoid bringing up topics that can upset them. If you do end up upsetting them unintentionally then be sure to distract them with something immediately.

Alzheimer’s patients get annoyed by a variety of triggers. These triggers can be the room being too noisy or the presence of someone they don’t like in the room. Identify these triggers and make sure the patient is as comfortable as can be.

Look after yourself

When looking after someone else, we tend to forget ourselves. Keep in mind that if you aren’t keeping your health in check then you won’t be able to look after your loved one. Caregiving requires a lot of patience and you’re going to need some down time every now and then to ensure that your physical and mental needs are being addressed.

Do take some time out to refresh your mind. Try taking up yoga and meditation to be able to block out any negativity that you may have building up in your mind and to enable you to go to your ‘quiet place’ when it’s needed.


Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways which can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.

Featured image via Pixabay

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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9 Comments

  1. When sitting on the front porch listening to Mom observing the difference in hubcaps on cars on the street (feeling the drip, drip, drip of the water torture that perseveration can be), I would often look at her beautiful white head and picture her shrinking brain still trying so hard to serve her. IT IS HARD, but maybe the most blessed thing you can ever do!

    Reply
  2. Love, it always works/helps. And they know if you’re genuine or not so. And the other big thing DIGNITY.!! TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY. ITS UNBELIEVABLE THE # OF PEOPLE CAREGIVING WHO SHOULDN’T BE BECAUSE THEY ARE MEAN AND LACK COMPASSION, DOING A JOB THATS ONLY A JOB AMD NOT THEIR PASSION OR HEART. IM SORRY BUT ELDERLY DESERVE COMPASSION, RESPECT AMD DIGNITY BUT SADLY I THINK THE MAJORITY DONT GET IT, ESPECIALLY IN OUR CULTURE HERE IN THE US

    Reply
  3. Do everything with love and patience.

    Reply
  4. my Father has a parkinsons disease, is it like alzheimer’s?

    Reply
  5. Keep them involved, take them out for outings. Include them in every day tasks. Let them know they are still needed.

    Reply
  6. The best way to care for any patient with dementia is to treat them with calm and patience. If you find yourself as a caregiver getting angry with them realize this is a normal response but that you need to leave them immediately and find a break anyway you can. Always know that you are not alone in any emotion you are having towards the patient. If they are in a nursing home or Assisted Living get to know the staff really well and make sure the staff knows who your loved one was before they lost their memory with pictures and stories. It’s human nature to not see a person for who they were when what you’re seeing in front of you is a person that can’t talk walk or speak. Bring them alive again and enjoying this it will be therapeutic for you also. Drag photo albums out and make a small photo album with only the best pictures and write a few short stories about your loved one.

    Reply

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