Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s is difficult and sometimes frustrating. As the disease progresses, it robs them of the ability to understand and communicate. It also brings personality changes and behavioral changes that can challenge even the most patient of caregivers.
How family caregivers and personal companions respond and react in these situations can make a difference.
Experts recommend that caregivers practice “compassionate communication” and respond calmly. This can not only minimize conflict, but reduce aggressive behaviors.
Here are some dos and don’ts that can reduce stress for your loved one with Alzheimer’s and for you.
* People with dementia are easily startled. So approach from the front.
* Always maintain eye contact.
* Keep your voice soft, and pleasant.
* Speak slowly and calmly.
* Be prepared to identify yourself.
* Short, simple sentences.
* One question at a time. Don’t overwhelm them.
* Try to eliminate background noise, if possible.
* If you’re asking a question, wait patiently for the answer.
* If he or she can’t find the word…help them out by finishing the thought.
* Be prepared to repeat. Repeat. And repeat.
* Nothing helps a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s as much as praise. Don’t hold back with the “Good job!” or “Thank you!”
* Give them a choice whenever possible. It’s empowering. And it’s calming.
* Their feelings are important to them. Acknowledge what they’re feeling.
* Soft touches on the shoulder or knee can get a good response.
* Hugs can get a great response!
* Laugh. Together.
* Don’t argue. Ever.
* If you’re getting angry or frustrated…STOP! You can try again later.
* Don’t be sarcastic. And don’t – ever – talk down to the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient.
* Don’t correct them. As far as you’re concerned…they’re never wrong.
* Never demand. Request.
* Speak slowly. Hurrying will only increase their frustration…and yours.
* Always remember: It’s not personal.