Giving Care to a Loved One With Alzheimer and Dementia

1.) The earlier the care starts for an Alzheimer’s disease victim the better.  And preparation for this care is very important. You may want to assign family members to take care of the patient. This may not work out because he or she needs to be taken care of for 24 hours and the family members will have other engagements that have to take away some of the time that the patient needs. They may have to go to work and take care of their own health. That is why many prefer the services of a home health care company, to ensure that utmost attention is given their patient.

2. Health care and financial decision for the Alzheimer’s patient during an advanced stage of his or her disease are crucial issues. Even though a difficult subject to handle at the beginning, it’s good to start discussing it as soon as diagnosis is done. If not, later he or she may become confused and make serious mistakes in decision making. When your loved one is still thinking right, his/her wishes should be written, well preserved and respected by family members. Then an elder law attorney should be consulted to follow the patient’s will, power of attorney for finances and healthcare (if he/she wants to have one). Application for guardianship /conservatorship is usually recommended if the situation of the patient worsens.

3.) The place where your loved one should live is also crucial for improvement of his/her health. Living alone is not safe, except a caregiver is assigned to him/her, without which the patient should be taken to stay where he will have support –  in a facility or in the home of a loved one.Medical follow-up from geriatric care managers and private care managers will help with providing initial assessment, crisis management, assisting with placement in a nursing home or facility and interviewing in-home help. 

Communication Do’s and Don’ts?

Avoid becoming frustrated by empathizing and remembering the person can’t help their condition. Making the person feel safe rather than stressed will make communication easier. Take a short break if you feel your fuse getting short.
Keep communication short, simple, and clear. Give one direction or ask one question at a time.Tell the person who you are if there appears to be any doubt.Call the person by name. 
Speak slowly. The person may take longer to process what’s being said.Use closed-ended questions which can be answered “yes” or “no.” For example, ask, “Did you enjoy the beef at dinner?” instead of “What did you have for dinner?”Find a different way to say the same thing if it wasn’t understood. Try a simpler statement with fewer words.Use distraction or fibs if telling the whole truth will upset the person with dementia. For example, to answer the question, “Where is my mother?” it may be better to say, “She’s not here right now” instead of “She died 20 years ago.”
Use repetition as much as necessary. Be prepared to say the same things over and over as the person can’t recall them for more than a few minutes at a time.
Use techniques to attract and maintain the person’s attention. Smile, make eye contact, use gestures, touch, and other body language. 

Ever say things like: “Do you remember?” “Try to remember!” “Did you forget?” “How could you not know that?!”
Ask questions that challenge short-term memory such as “Do you remember what we did last night?” The answer will likely be “no,” which may be humiliating for the person with dementia.
Talk in paragraphs. Instead, offer one idea at a time.
Point out the person’s memory difficulty. Avoid remarks such as “I just told you that.” Instead, just repeat it over and over.
Talk in front of the person as if he or she were not present. Always include the person in any conversation when they are physically present.
Use lots of pronouns such as “there, that, those, him, her, it.” Use nouns instead. For example, instead of “sit there” say “sit in the blue chair.”
Use slang or unfamiliar words. The person may not understand the latest terms or phrases.
Use patronizing language or “baby talk.” A person with dementia will feel angry or hurt at being talked down to.
Use sarcasm or irony, even if meant humorously. Again, it can cause hurt or confusion.