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Dementia & Alzheimer's: Guidelines for Caregivers

As a certified dementia practitioner I often hear family caregivers report the following reactions when working with loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia:

  1. Sense of frustration and helplessness from a lack of person's improvement, constant repetition of instructions, answering of repetitive questions.

  2. Decreased patience and tolerance when loved ones are hostile, impulsive, negative and slow to respond.

  3. Feelings of anger at feeling as though the loved one is purposely not cooperating.

Here are some helpful hints and general guidelines for caregivers:

  1. Smile; loved ones often take cues from caregivers. If the caregiver behaves in a relaxed manner with positive body language and quiet tone of voice you will get a better outcome.

  2. If your loved one is resistant leave that person alone for a bit and approach the task later.

  3. Talk about pleasant topics and offer the family member something to do with their hands.

  4. Do not argue as your loved one's brain is rigid and they will always believe themselves.

  5. If your family member is agitated make the environment as calm as possible.

  6. Always orient to the clock and calendar.

  7. Try to provide a very comfortable personal space.

  8. Provide care from the side of the person, standing in front can put you at risk for being hurt.

  9. Monitor food intake, fluid intake and elimination because dehydration and constipation can increase confusion.

  10. Be aware to signs of delirium from medication changes, interactions, infections,etc.

  11. Be aware and deal with your own feelings.

  12. Keep all activities simple.

  13. Make all activities failure free.

  14. Keep area safe.

  15. Select the best or optimal times of day for interaction.

  16. Give verbal and visual instructions.

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