Alzheimer’s disease is an ever-evolving condition; just when you’ve figured out how to best manage one symptom or behavioral issue, another springs up to take its place! While it’s certainly challenging, it’s also very rewarding to provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and the dementia care experts at Nightingale Homecare have some tips to help.
Regardless of what the behavior is – wandering, agitation, sleeping or eating difficulties, just to name a few – the best way to help your loved one is by looking deeper into the situation, below the surface symptom to the underlying reason for it. Take a deep breath, and a few minutes to explore the answers to these questions:
- What patterns can you piece together? Is the behavior occurring at the same time each day? Does it emerge around a particular activity, such as bathing or bedtime? Could there be a seasonal connection, such as during the winter months when days are shorter?
- What clues in the environment could be triggering the behavior? Is there heightened noise/activity level? Too many or too few people? A difference in temperature? Could other sensory input, such as bright lights or strong smells, be contributing to the issue?
- Are there any unmet needs? Is the person hungry, thirsty, or overly tired? Is there any unaddressed pain? Might the person need to use the restroom? Or has he/she been in one position too long and need some exercise?
Once you’ve compiled notes on the “why” behind your loved one’s behavioral issue, and ensured that there aren’t any underlying medical conditions that require attention, there are a number of ways to help the senior while deescalating the behavior – and oftentimes, creativity can be your best friend. Think outside of the box; you know your loved one, and you know what has worked in the past as well as what definitely did NOT work. Keep the following in mind:
- Remain calm. It can be difficult to avoid getting caught up in the emotional momentum as your loved one’s behaviors accelerate, but it’s vitally important to maintain a sense of peace. The older adult will pick up on your mood and often respond accordingly.
- Keep a basket of “favorites” on hand. A favorite book or picture album, hobby or interest, beloved music, flowers, even a particular scent, such as a lavender or vanilla candle, can provide a needed distraction.
- Change locations. Take a walk outside and point out the interesting pattern on a tree, a kitten in the neighbor’s yard, children playing at the park. Even moving into a different room can often make a difference.
Perhaps most importantly, validate your loved one’s feelings. It’s understandable – and ok – to feel whatever he or she is feeling. Sometimes, just knowing we are heard and understood helps tremendously.
Nightingale Homecare’s specially trained Scottsdale Alzheimer’s care team is on hand to provide more tips and assistance with our Connections dementia care program. Certified as Alzheimer’s Whisperers®, we offer a unique approach to gentle, patient assistance in managing even the most difficult aspects of Alzheimer’s care. Contact us at (602)504-1555 to learn more or to schedule a free in-home assessment.