When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, families are faced with a number of questions and challenges. How will the disease progress? What changes will I see in my loved one during the different stages of Alzheimer’s? And how am I going to handle them?
It’s important for family caregivers to equip themselves with as much information as possible about the disease, and this includes creating a plan that is proactive enough to address the current needs, while preparing for those yet to come. While each person experiences the stages of Alzheimer’s uniquely, there are some commonalities to keep an eye out for, particularly as it relates to changes in the person’s personality, mood, and the behaviors that stem from those changes:
- Increased agitation, anxiety, and irritability
- Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
- Pacing and wandering
- Physical and/or verbal aggressiveness
- Difficulty understanding the world around them
- Poor hygiene habits
- Problems with falling or staying asleep, and differing sleep patterns
- Physical challenges such as problems with vision and/or hearing
- And many others
These effects may also come and go as the person progresses from one stage to the next, and new challenges then become apparent. And understandably, trying to help someone who’s experiencing such a wide array of emotions and behaviors can quickly become overwhelming for family caregivers.
- Minimize distractions. Often, confusion and frustration are enhanced for someone with dementia when there’s an overload sensory stimulation, such as the TV or radio playing while others in the room are talking.
- As much as possible, stick to a daily, predictable routine.
- Avoid open-ended questions, and instead provide choices; for instance, “Would you like chicken or fish for dinner?” is often more effective than, “What would you like for dinner?”
- Never correct or argue with the individual.
- Use statements that reflect the person’s feelings rather than the behaviors that have manifested from those feelings: “It looks like you’re feeling angry today,” rather than, “Why are you banging your fist on the table?”
While it’s natural for family caregivers to feel upset or frustrated themselves when a loved one’s feelings are elevated and behaviors are difficult to handle, it’s also vitally important to maintain a sense of calm, even in the face of distress. The senior will pick up on your agitation, often leading to escalated behaviors. Take a step back, breathe deeply, and count to ten before responding to the senior’s needs.
At Nightingale Homecare, our specialized Connections dementia care program helps those with Alzheimer’s by utilizing a unique, creative, and compassionate approach through qualified Alzheimer’s Whisperers® who are extensively trained in effectively managing the difficult behaviors that often accompany dementia.
We begin by providing an in-depth evaluation, and then create a customized strategic plan to fully meet the person’s needs while empowering him or her to maintain the highest level of functionality at all times.
Partnering with an professional Alzheimer’s care company in Phoenix such as Nightingale Homecare helps not just the person with dementia, but his or her family caregivers as well, providing the opportunity for the respite required to maintain a healthy life balance. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!