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Tips for Handling Alzheimer’s Disease in Loved Ones

August 7, 2014

When a loved one starts to show signs of memory loss, it can be difficult - if you have ever watched a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, you know how hard this all too well.  Unfortunately, with an aging Baby Boomer generation, millions of people will experience the first-hand effects of Alzheimer’s and related ailments. How can you help your loved one through this disease and what can you do to care for yourself as a parent or loved one potentially forgets who you are?

Realize You Cannot Change It

One of the major mistakes we often see from caregivers is people thinking they can change the outcome. When Alzheimer’s begins, you need to know your life will forever change. Although proper memory care can help ease the effects of Alzheimer's disease, your loved one will not be able to go back to the person they were. Their memory will come in and out. You cannot change your loved ones behavior, but you can learn how to modify it. One suggestion is to avoid is the word “no.” When you say “no” to a person with Alzheimer’s disease, they can often become irritated and angry. You want to set the tone for a happy, trustworthy relationship. Try to re-direct their idea if something they say is unrealistic. Agree with their idea and then suggest a different one that is realistic to the situation.

Avoid Setting Them Up For Failure

It is going to be hard when they potentially call you a wrong name or forget their own children. Try to avoid setting them up for failure by taking the situation for what it is now. Tell them your name up front instead of waiting to see if they remember, and explain that you are here to visit with them if they are not living with you. Try to not ask them to explain people in pictures, but simply tell them who the people are and what they were doing in the picture. This is a better way to create a positive emotion for them instead of “testing” and making them upset.

Learn to Listen and Respond Properly

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, sufferers will often go back to childhood memories. Some of them will say they saw their parents or a loved one who has died. It’s important that you avoid telling them that their loved one died as it can often cause them to become depressed or irritated. In their reality, this is the first time they are hearing the news that their loved one has died. It is best to ask questions when you talk to them about people who have passed.

Focus On Safety

Simple tasks like getting dressed or going to the bathroom may become hard for them to do alone. Safety is essential to prevent your loved one from falling and injuring him/herself. Install safety railings; remove rugs from the home that they can trip over. Try to have them on a single-level of the home so they do not need to go up and down stairs often. As the disease worsens, their physical capabilities will worsen with their mental capabilities. Consider sending them to a care facility where staff members are trained to manage the illness. They can do more for your loved one than family caregivers, and it can take some of the burden off your shoulders. There are great support groups for families that are dealing with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s and related ailments. Work with others to help you through this challenging time; remember that you’re not alone. Work with their doctor and nurses as a team instead of making demands on them. There is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and researchers cannot completely identify why it occurs. The best thing you can do is learn to adapt and avoid becoming upset with your loved one. 

A specialized memory care center can benefit and ease life for those living with Alzheimer's and other memory-impairing diseases. A memory care location ensures families that their loved ones are provided with a safe and flourishing environment, filled with professionally trained and specialized staff to care for your loved ones. Concordia Lutheran Ministries offers memory care facilities in the South Hills and Fox Chapel regions of Pittsburgh, Pa. With each facility offering slightly different amenities and services, you can be certain that your loved one is receiving the individual attention they require for healthy living. Call our Fox Chapel facility at 412-767-5808 or South Hills community at 412-278-1300 and discover what our memory care locations have to offer. 

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