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Caregiving Tips

. . . when listening to your loved one

  • Be patient and supportive
  • Show your interest
  • Offer comfort and reassurance
  • Avoid criticizing or correcting
  • Don't argue
  • Offer a guess of what they may be talking about if they are unclear
  • Focus on feeling not facts
  • Limit your distractions
  • Encourage your loved one to communicate nonverbally
. . . on being a better communicator to your loved one

  • Identify yourself
  • Address the person by name
  • Use short, simple and familiar words and sentences
  • Talk more slowly and clearly
  • Give one-step directions
  • Ask one question at a time, preferably about a past event
  • Don't question recent memory
  • Repeat information or questions
  • Turn questions into answers
  • Avoid literal expressions
  • Make negatives more positives
  • Don't reason, argue or confront
  • Never remind them that they forget
  • Don't take anything they say personally
. . . on understanding difficult behaviors

Alzheimer's disease can cause a person to act in different or unpredictable ways. It is important to remember that the person is not acting this way on purpose. Some individuals with Alzheimer's become anxious or aggressive, others repeat certain questions or gestures. These changes can sometimes lead to frustratioin and tension, perticularly between the person with Alzheimer's and the caregiver.

Changes in behavior may be caused by:

  • Physical discomfort
  • Overstimulation
  • Unfamiliar surroundings
  • Complicated tasks
  • Frustrating interactions

Whatever the cause, be sure to identify the specific challenge and consider possible solutions.

Caregiving Tips for the Holidays

Preparing the Person with Alzheimer's Disease:

  • Talk about and show pictures of the people who are coming to visit.
  • Play familiar holiday music and serve favorite traditional holiday foods.
  • Watch and/or help with decorations.
  • Persons with AD may recognize faces of family members and friends but may be unable to recall names. Name tags are helpful.
  • Have a "quiet" room if things get too hectic and have a familiar person stay with them so they don't feel isolated or left out.
  • Prepare for distractions beforehand (e.g., use of photo album) to divert attention if problem behaviors occur.
Preparing Visitors:

  • Encourage them to visit, but ask that they call ahead to make sure it is a good time.
  • Celebrate early in the day or have a holiday lunch rather than dinner to reduce the likelihood of Sundowner Syndrome.
  • Familarize visitors beforehand of behavior and condition of loved one with AD.
  • Try not to have too many people over at one time, which may be overwhelming.
If You Are the Visitor:

  • Watch for signs of fatigue and agitation and shorten the length of your stay.
  • Bring Photographs, holiday treats, a favorite record or other things to share.
  • Don't talk about your problems or depressing topics, especially their condition.
  • Encourage reminiscence; engage the AD patient in conversation. Talking about the past will often get a better response than asking about anything that may have happen several days ago. Often AD patients will remember an interesting event from the past, but may not be able to tell you what they had for dinner 30 minutes ago.
  • Ask the caregiver the best time of the day to visit.
  • Offer to do something for the caregiver (wrap presents, do an errand, help prepare food, etc).
  • Avoid making judgments.
  • Give of yourself.
If You Are a Caregiver:

  • Plan ahead.
  • Take a break regularly, try some extra day care or in-home care.
  • Stop feeling guilty about things you can't control or change.
  • Cut out the unnecessary - don't be afraid to say no!
  • Ask for and accept help from family and friends.
  • Share your feelings - this is a good time to join a support group.
  • Inform yourself about community resources.
  • Take care of yourself!
  • Set limits as to what you are able to do and make sure the family understands your needs and wishes.
  • Give yourself a gift!
Selecting Activities:

  • Use past interests as a guide. When the activity is first introduced if there is no interest, try again later.
  • Slow the pace of the activities to allow the person with AD to comprehend as well as enjoy the sensory pleasure from the activity.
  • Activity Suggestions (based on their ability to succeed and for satisfaction and safety): make ornaments; decorate the tree, decorate cookies; package baked goods; polish silver or menorah; set the table; fold napins; wrap presents; stuff, seal or stamp holiday cards; sing or listen to songs; enjoy photos, videos or slides of family and past holidays; read together favorite holiday poems, stories or seasonal magazines; take walks.
Maintaining Safety:

  • Create a clear pathway for walking; avoid wires, cords and throw rugs.
  • Use ribbon or yarn instead of sharp hooks to hang ornaments and decorations.
  • Avoid decorating with items that look edible.
  • Avoid confusing, blinking lights.
  • Do not leave lighted candles or fireplaces unattended.
  • Use plastic or silk mistletoe rather than real -- it's toxic if eaten.
  • Serve non-alcoholic beer, wine or sparkling cider.

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