Lost but not Forgotten (Alzheimer’s)
Once again I apologize for being an absent blogger. It may be like this for a while, but I’ll try to present you with valuable information when I do find the time to post.
ALZHEIMER’S and DEMENTIA
These are two topics that get large amounts of press these days. Surprisingly, though, most family caregivers and many agency caregivers of Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients have no clue how to deal with the chaos these disease processes present.
Let’s look at a few facts:
1) Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia
2) This is a progressive disease
3) There is no cure
4) Medications may slow the process for a time, but will not stop or cure it.
5) Every person responds differently to treatment
6) Family members and caregivers often deal with guilt
I could get very technical and scientific here about how the disease process starts, what happens in the brain, and the various stages of the disease. For the sake of this post let’s skip all that. The thing that really matters is how you can cope with your aging parent, or your client, who is lost in the world of Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
First off let’s be realistic about your capabilities. No one person is perfect. You will get frustrated. You may even get angry. There should be no guilt unless you are physically or mentally abusing your parent or client. If that is the case then call someone and tell them what you are feeling and that you can no longer care for this person. Be aware of your limitations and don’t let anyone tell you to do more than you are capable of handling.
Second, there may be days when it looks like things are getting better. Embrace those times, enjoy the reprieve, but know that these times are few and far between. There is no rhyme or reason so don’t waste your energy or time trying to figure it out. Just go with the flow.
When mom or your client tells you to get ready for the big dance tonight you will not be able to convince her that she isn’t 17 any more. Trying to bring her into your reality from where she is that day will only cause her confusion and chaos so play along. Pull out your party dresses, do up your hair, help her put on her make up and then both of you can go take a nap. Within an hour she’ll be in a different place.
If dad tells you he’s going out into the garage to tinker with his tools then maybe you need to distract him with a story from his past. Ask him what he wants to build that day, or what his favorite tools is. There may not be any tools left in the garage or maybe he’s too weak to wield a hammer or saw, but you can let him reminisce in that area of his memory for a while.
The only important things are to keep your parent or client safe and in the least amount of confusion possible. Decreasing the number of upsetting episodes will give you both a calmer, more sane existence and the love you feel for each other can rule the day.
How important is it in the overall scheme of things if mom wants to roll pie crust every day while you fix dinner or dad wants to carry his cigar box of trinkets around the house and show it to you every time you walk into a room with him. You wouldn’t become impatient with a child for wanting to do these things so show your parents or clients the same respect and let them play in the regions of their mind where they are happy and secure.
Do you have a specific way of coping with your aging parent or elderly client? Feel free to share in the comments. I love hearing from you!