Alzheimer’s not only alters the lives of people with the disease but also the lives of those who are the caretakers. The Alzheimer’s journey can be just as emotionally and physically demanding for the caregiver as it is for the one with the actual disease, however, it is often overlooked when it comes to the caregiver. The worry of effective communication, wandering risks, agitation and difficult behaviors are just a few of the major stressors caregivers can be faced with on a day-to-day basis.
Depending on the stage of the illness, there are many ways that you and others can interact with a person with dementia. It is best to make changes in the home when the person is in the early stages and can adjust. Remove furniture and other household items that may be a hazard and cause a possible accident. Provide good lighting that does not create confusing shadows and have soft music playing to create a calm environment. If you are faced with an agitated or angry loved one, try to stay calm, rather than getting upset yourself. Anger and/or agitation may be a sign of pain the person cannot express verbally. If you suspect unaddressed illness or pain, call your doctor. Sometimes a lack of stimulating activities can be portrayed in the wrong way, go on a walk or offer up a small snack. If wandering is something you are faced with be sure the doors in the home remain locked. You can also disguise them or use a device to alert the caregiver that the door has been opened. When away from home, it is essential to be vigilant, as a person can quickly wander off. All people with dementia should wear an identification bracelet or pendant, so that if they do wander, they can be found.
Caregivers must take care of themselves, as they too often become entirely focused on the person for whom they are caring. The more you learn about your loved one’s disease and how it will progress over the years, the better you’ll be able to prepare for future challenges, reduce frustration, and foster reasonable expectations. Understand it is ok to ask for help, join a support group, or get in touch with valuable resources available to you and your loved one.
For more information on how hospice services can help, give us a call at 702-636-0200