Caring for someone you love and cherish but is suffering from Alzheimer’s is a taxing responsibility. Patients with Alzheimer’s are prone to falling into extreme behavioral conditions, such as aggressiveness, forgetfulness, wandering, hallucinations and other moody conditions. They can even be particularly trying when it comes to eating and sleeping habits. These problems and issues can be further exacerbated with changes in living environment and poor stress management skills. As a caregiver, you need to ensure the environment is designed to the needs of Alzheimer’s patients.
To know how to care for people with Alzheimer’s the most important step is to identify the source of their behavioral problems. Coping with personality changes is one of the most trying things caregivers will face so it’s important to understand this behavior isn’t conscious or deliberate on their part. The sense of reality Alzheimer’s patients experience is vastly different to yours. Dementia has a way of warping what’s real and what’s not. That is why patience is the key. In addition, there’s a need to come up with a strategy which can keep the changed behavior at bay.
The foremost way to make a positive change in the quality of lives of Alzheimer’s patients is to consider two things:
- How you communicate with them
- How the home environment is
It is important to note people with Alzheimer’s find it increasingly difficult to communicate. Because of the sense of dementia, they feel stressed and discomforted. Talking to them and using anything from facial expressions, tone of voice as well as body language is far more effective in getting through to them. Employ eye contact, smiles and show compassion to get good results. And above all, avoid taking their reactions personally. Like we said earlier, the sense of reality an Alzheimer’s sufferer exhibits is different from your own.
One effective rule of thumb is to put yourself in their shoes. This can help you identify the source of their discomfort most of the times. You will need to ask if there is any history behind any problem. Sometimes, it pays to look back to see what triggered the behavior in an Alzheimer’s sufferer. Always ensure the basic needs of the patient are met, be it hunger, thirst, sleep or pain.
Work on making the home environment as calm as soothing as you can. This can give Alzheimer’s patients feel at ease and safe, putting their mood swings in cold storage for the most part. It is important to remember Alzheimer’s patients react to little changes in the environment. This can be anything from loud noises, erratic lighting, and haphazard placement of reflecting surfaces, such as mirrors, even flashy colors or room wallpaper.
One more thing to take care of is to be calm as the caregiver. These people come to associate you with stability so any change in you can also set them off, agitating them and disorienting them from the safe sense of reality they associate you with. It’s alien. It is important not to get upset or exhibit signs of anxiety in front of the patient as they can detect that. It helps when you try to react to the emotion associated with the behavior and not the behavior of Alzheimer’s patients themselves.
Patience, flexibility and a relaxed demeanor are needed to care for them. If you feel like losing control, it’s a better idea to take time out. Just by following these directions you can make a world of difference to the lives of Alzheimer’s patients. They need much care and focus and you can provide it in the most effective way possible.