Caregiving for your loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease is one of the biggest challenges you will ever face. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of Dementia; it affects 50 out of 80 people who suffer from Dementia disease. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease where symptoms gradually worsen. In its early stage patients start suffering from memory loss and as the disease progresses the individual may begin to have problems with regular activities and daily living; for example, they will have a hard time getting dressed, they may lose their way, they may repeat questions, again and again, in addition, you will also notice a major change in their mood and overall personality, they tend to become withdrawn and may lose the ability to care on a conversation.
No two people experience the disease the same way which is why there is no single correct way to provide care. Your responsibilities can range from making financial decisions to managing behavior changes, to helping to dress up. Handling these duties can be extremely hard work. Here is a list of the same caregiving strategies which can make your job a little easier, and while at it, you can make sure your loved ones feel supported and has the best quality of life possible.
1. The hardest part is coming to terms with the reality, getting used to the new normal, knowing that the person you love has changed and that means you will have to change with them. There is never a right time to get the news, that the person you once loved and lived with your whole life can no longer ever be that person again. Teepa Snow, who arranges workshops all over America to create awareness regarding the disease; describes getting the news as “you want to cover your head and hide somewhere, you get into a very effective denial, you try to get busy to avoid the reality.” You are about to take care of a person who was once was your rock and your anchor, your role in a relationship is about to be reversed. But there is no way you can fix that, the sooner you will understand that the easier it is for you.
2. Your patients can become your superpower here. In the beginning, it may feel like you are not making things any better, but do not lose hope. You will have to release yourself from the life you had before diagnosis, so you can make room for the life you have now. It is easier said than done but allow yourself and your loved one a period of transition. Life lives from this point forward and you have moved along with it.
3. You will be perpetually dealing with the patient’s anger and agitation, this is not going to be easy for you as a caregiver; as people with Alzheimer's tend to become unintentionally verbally abusive. They do not understand why you are bossing them around or constantly hovering over them, they are not aware of the fact that they are no longer in control of the situation or what you are doing, is for their best. Their frustration and confusion will produce violent outbursts, they have a child-like brain now so they will be throwing tantrums. Sometimes their reaction will not make sense, and there is no point trying to make sense of it, as soon as you will understand this your relationship will progress within the lines of flexibility and forgiveness.
4. Often caregivers deplete themselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They forget to nourish themselves, in their list, they always come in last. But you need to breathe and take in the oxygen first because that is the primary way to offer your love and care to your loved ones. Your distress might trigger their distress, this is a never-ending marathon and if you will wear yourself down, you won’t be able to run the marathon. Real strength is in knowing your limits, and you are a person with finite resources.
5. Allow your patient to make simple choices, this will allow your loved ones to calm down and feel control. Apologize or take the blame for the situation as it diverts their minds from the distress. Remove the items from the environment that are bothering them, you may have to try more than one time in different ways to change the situation, but in the end, you are creating a better life for them.
6. Redirect, or change their attention casually instead of startling them. If your loved one is wandering off, you can move them towards the activity they might enjoy. You can say that their favorite tv show is about to start, or it's time to play their game, anything that is not all that big of a deal.
People suffering from Alzheimer's are deprived of common man’s happiness, comfort, and understanding, most of them are neglected by their families and statics show that 4 out of 5 falls apart because of the disease. Their care indeed requires undivided attention both financially and physically, but we are at liberty here to return their love and compassion. This list will help you understand the first-hand effect that Alzheimer's has on a person as well as the caregivers.