Alzheimer's Caregiver Do's & Dont's
Below are a few easy tips for having a successful interaction with someone living with Dementia or Alzheimer's!
- DO change the way you communicate.
- DO use short, clear sentences. Repeat yourself using a calm voice when necessary.
- DON’T provide explanations or tell lengthy stories.
- DON’T ask questions like “Do you remember when…? Or ask if your resident remembers what happened in recent memory. This can be humiliating for a person living with Alzheimer’s who likely can’t remember. Say “Tell me about a time” instead.
- DO carefully rephrase your questions so that they can be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
- DON’T remind your residents that their memory is failing. Statements like “I just told you that this morning,” or “I cannot believe you don’t remember that,” can upset and agitate a person with Alzheimer’s.
- DO adjust your attitude.
- DO practice kindness and patience. It is easy to become irritated and frustrated when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Remember that your approach sets the tone for your entire encounter. When working with your resident becomes difficult, take a deep breath and remind yourself that they cannot control their disease.
and DO NOT be condescending. Remember they are adults and should be treated with respect.
- DO be cheerful and reassuring. This can keep your resident feel calm and help them to feel safe. They vibe off of us, if we are in a bad mood they feel the tension. Encouragement from us goes a LONG way!
- DO “go with the flow. DO NOT feel the need to correct a mis-understanding. For instance, when they ask about their Mom who has been gone for years, DO NOT correct them by telling them the person is gone, instead reminisce about the person or redirect. Let it go, its not worth the confusion and hurt to the resident.
- DO change your response.
- DON’T argue or confront, Pick your battles… Taking an aggressive stance can trigger an aggressive defense in a person living with Alzheimer’s. When your senior loved one does or says something troubling, it is best to distract them from their thought or behavior. For instance, if your resident insists that he needs to get to work, distracting him with a snack and a walk will calm him. Explaining that he retired ten years ago will only further agitate him and cause more questions.
- DON’T push residents to do something they don’t want to do. Walk away and try again later or try a different approach.
- DO focus on reducing stress and making your residents feel safe. People living with dementia are very often fearful and paranoid. When reacting to their behavior, consider all your options and act with their comfort and security in mind.
- DO keep your agenda in your back pocket. Make a connection before you move into the task. Showering is a BIG one…
- DON’T forget residents personal items and adaptive equipment.
- DO take the time to learn all about your residents. It will make every interaction easier and it builds TRUST.
Let there be kindness in your eyes and a smile on your face. Do not only give your care but give your heart as well.