Since Alzheimer’s impairs a person’s reasoning and communication abilities, caregivers need to think strategically to meet daily challenges. In conjunction with self-care techniques, these four practical tips can help make a caregiver’s burden a little lighter:
1. Being logical won’t help:
As humans, we tend to rationalize things that don’t make sense. But since dementia impedes reasoning, Alzheimer’s caregivers need to resist the natural impulse to change behaviors with logical arguments. Simple and direct sentences about practical tasks make for more effective communication.
2. “White lies” are okay:
Honesty is important in every relationship; this is also true for the caregiver relationship. However, challenging every delusion of a person with Alzheimer’s cause pain and distress. For example: your loved one may think that he is a volunteer at the day care center or that you only “coincidentally” pass by the doctors after a lunch out. These little lies are okay to keep going.
3. Questioning a diagnosis is normal:
People with dementia occasionally act like they did before the disease, making their caregivers feel like their diagnosis has been exaggerated. This is perfectly normal. However, everyone with dementia has moments of clarity, and it is important to differentiate between your loved one and the disease. Above all, cherish your loved one’s moments of lucidity.
4. Offer a sense of control:
People with Alzheimer’s are not capable of maintaining their previous level of independence. Giving them an illusion of control can help ease the anger this causes. Speak soothingly and suggestively, rather than with direct commands. Find minor choices your loved one can make; for example, prepare two outfits and let them choose one.
Are you an Alzheimer’s caregiver? Check out the Brain Matters blog for more facts and tips and consider joining one of our clinical research opportunities.