Acceptance Leads to Better Understanding of Alzheimer’s Patients
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein
For those of you caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, does this quote strike a chord? You’re not alone. Caregivers of patients with dementia issues are often frustrated by the repetitive nature of their patient’s illness.
Have you ever made any of these statements?
Yes, you can do this, you just need to concentrate.
You asked me that two minutes ago and I told you ...
Dad died years ago, you know that.
This is your home. You live here now.
Have you ever asked your loved one any of these questions?
You remember that, don't you?
Have you showered today?
What do you mean you forgot to feed the dog?
Have you eaten lunch yet?
Even though the answers you get are not the truth—or the ones you always want to hear—these questions are asked in moments of frustration or stress. Alzheimer’s is a nasty and lengthy disease and it can be hard to know how to proceed. Frustration will only continue or even escalate when the caregiver keeps trying to make the patient be who they once were instead of realizing who they are now.
Alzheimer's patients have diminished short-term memory and they generally live in the past. When forced to live in the here and now, they can become uncooperative and agitated. As a caregiver, it is important to find ways to help and accommodate them without compromising their care.
Observation can take the place of questioning. You will know that bathing is not taking place when you get close enough, or when you do not see any wet towels or a wet tub. You can detect weight loss when you don’t see any evidence of cooking—no dirty dishes, little food in the refrigerator—or you notice that clothing is much looser.
Acceptance of who they are right now will save you much aggravation. It will also help you maintain the viable parts of your relationship. It will help them maintain their dignity longer as well.
Know that it is normal if your loved one constantly talks about “the old neighborhood” or thinks that you are someone from the past. Even though it can seem tedious, there is nothing to be gained from arguing with them or trying to pull them into your reality. Studies have shown that these memories provide comfort and help keep bad behaviors at bay.
In summary, to decrease stress for all:
Observe more and talk less.
Accept where your loved ones are at any given time and celebrate what remains instead of focusing on what was lost.
Adapt to their world, not the other way around.
And most of all, remember that they are living in memories much kinder than their reality.
|Marcy Speidel RN, BSN Client Care Coordinator HomeInstead Senior Care|
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