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Caring for people with Alzheimer's

The care of someone living with Alzheimer’s has heavy demands and peculiarities, especially when the disease is at an advanced stage.

People who care for those living with Alzheimer’s usually feel that that they don’t how to care properly for these people, as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brings new problems and challenges every day. The carer, being as informed about the disease as she/he can from the start may help him/her understand and deal with these challenges.

Personal Relationships

If you are the carer, when the time is right you have to be honest with the person you are caring for, the family, and friends. First, inform them about the current situation. Train them on how to care for a person living with Alzheimer’s and explain to them how it is to be the carer. Give them any information they need in case they have to help in the future.

Help your family and friends understand how to interact with a person with Alzheimer’s. Direct them on how to introduce themselves. Explain to them that they do not need to correct the person living with the disease on any mistakes they make or whenever they forget something. It would be nice of them to help plan everyday activities of entertainment, such as visiting old friends or having a family gathering.

On an even more personal level, when you are close to the person you are taking care of, you have to be prepared as the relationship between carer and person living with the disease will change many times and also a great deal along the course of time. Confusion, frustration, and grief are some of the feelings you may experience. Be ready to face consecutive changes of feelings during the progress of AD.

Communication

It is important to secure a calm and relaxing environment of trust and security so that the person living with Alzheimer’s can communicate more effectively. Below is a list of advice about how to communicate and interact.

In your everyday communication/conversation:

  • use simple, everyday words and small sentences
  • use eye contact to secure their interest and attention for longer
  • leave enough time for them to think and respond
  • use body language and gestures
  • avoid criticism
  • use music or favourite songs to calm him/her down
  • encourage the expression of their feelings through fine arts and exercise

When the person living with Alzheimer’s temper is rising:

  • don’t argue
  • don’t try to change their mind with logical arguments
  • when there is fear try to make them feel more comfortable
  • avoid loud noises and crowded spaces

Advice for the carers themselves:

  • Acknowledge your limits and don’t try to overcome them
  • Accept that you have your own needs, too
  • Accept help when it is offered
  • Do now feel guilt if things did not go as expected or if you made mistakes
  • Look for the support of friends, family, and experts

Counselling

Many feelings come out to the surface when carers are dealing with the AD. The most common are disappointment, regret, anger, feelings of futility and inadequacy. Being properly informed about AD beforehand can sober up our expectations. Moreover, psychological support or counselling is crucial in helping carers cope with burn out and exhaustion.

Helping carers get rid of the guilt they carry about their negative feelings is essential. As a conclusion, counselling can aid carers control their daily life and be more effective in the difficult task they have to undertake, therefore indirectly helping the patients themselves.

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