as stated by Jolene Brackey in her book Creating Moments of Joy
- routine – A routine is very important for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. If you have a loved one with this disease, make a point to write down who they are. Our bodies remember routine, so when an Alzheimer’s sufferer feels something they’re used to, their body relaxes. For example, if they always wake up, have a cup of tea, and then get dressed, write it down so it can continue regardless of who does the care giving. Routines can let caregivers relax when situations get stressful.
- visits – When visiting with friends of family members who suffer with Alzheimer’s, recognize that open-ended questions can be very stressful. Asking questions that require recall, like “What did you do today?” or “How are you doing?” can put your loved one in a stressful position when they can’t remember.
Additionally, during visits your loved one may ask you questions that don’t have an easy answer. For example, your friend or family member might ask, “Where are my kids?” Responding with, “Sally lives in Alabama and Joe is in Connecticut,” can cause a lot of anxiety, because your loved one may not remember that they’ve grown up and moved. Instead respond with, “They’re at a friend’s house.” Even if this is not true, it will make your loved one feel better and reduce their stress level. It is very important to hear them and respond in their truth.
- recognition – One of the toughest parts of dealing with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s is their failure to recognize friends and family members. Alzheimer’s sufferers lose more and more short-term memory, but they keep getting younger in their mind. They may see themselves as being only 20 or 30 years old. This may be why individuals with dementia may not recognize their husband or adult child. Jolene Brackey recommends starting out by talking to them from outside the room. They will know your voice before they can identify your face. They still remember, but they don’t recognize.
- leaving – Similarly, when your loved one with Alzheimer’s asks to go home, the home they’re asking for is likely one from the past. If this situation comes up, the best thing to do is delay and suggest ways to keep them where they are. Tell them you can’t take them home yet because it’s time for breakfast. If they bring it up later, say that you just made coffee. If it comes up again, tell them they need to get dressed first.
Sometimes our loved one my want to leave for other reasons, like going to work. In this scenario, come up with reasons why they can’t do what they want to do. For example, if they say they have to go to work, tell them it’s Saturday. If they used to be a farmer and want to go out to the field, tell them it rained two inches last night.
Wrap-up – Ultimately, there are many ways to create moments of joy for our loved ones. Jolene also shared that music can really help calm situations. If your friend or family member seems to have had a hard day, think back to ways they used to make you feel better in the past. Most of the time, the way they cared for you is the way you can care for them.
If you would like more information about Community Home Care services, please call 617-462-9384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We provide a vast array of services to seniors in Massachusetts including Home Health Aides, 24 Hour Care, Transportation, Respite Care and Alzheimer’s Care.