Whether we admit it or not, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is hard work. You may have to deal with personality and difficult behaviors, be asked the same question over and over, and if you are not careful, your loved one may wander off. There may also come the point where you may have to grapple with the decision to place your loved one in a long-term care facility. The most painful thing you will ever face as an Alzheimer’s caregiver is that you slowly lose the person you love. As a caregiver, you will receive tons of advice. Here are some ideas about five things you as an Alzheimer’s caregiver should never do according to Marie Marley, author of Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy.
Don’t Be in Denial: Marie Marley writes that when a loved one shows signs of dementia, it’s painful to acknowledge it. It’s common for their friends and loved ones to be in denial and easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, push the symptoms to the back of your mind and find other ways to avoid thinking even for a minute that the person may have dementia. “The problem with denial,” she says, “is it doesn’t lead you to take your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete workup. “ If you are noticing any health issues with your loved one, be sure to bring them in to speak with your doctor.
Don’t Ask “Do You Remember?”: Asking someone with Alzheimer’s if they remember something is a common mistake that is easy to make. “It is almost as though we think we can jog their memory. But we rarely do”, Marie Marley says. They probably have forgotten the event you are asking about. That is what someone with Alzheimer’s does, they forget.
Don’t Argue With or Contradict the Person: When you are caring for someone with dementia, it is easy to contradict or argue with him or her when he or she says things that are total nonsense, as will probably happen often. “But the fact of the matter is that you can never win an argument with people who have dementia. They will stick to their guns to the bitter end!” It is better to just agree and then change the subject to avoid arguing.
Don’t Delay Nursing Home Placement When It’s Clearly Needed: There will come a point when it may become evident that you can no longer care for the person at home. Marie says that “later in the development of the disease, it takes a village to care for Alzheimer’s patients. They’ll likely need a nursing staff and aids 24 hours a day and a physician on call at all times.”
Don’t Stop Visiting When Your Loved One No Longer Recognizes You: “Many people think that there’s no reason to visit a loved one who no longer recognizes them, but I am firmly convinced that you should visit anyway. First of all, the person may enjoy being visited even if he or she doesn’t quite know who is visiting them. More importantly, it’s possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn’t able to say so”, says Marie Marley.
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