Check out the following excerpts taken from an Alzheimer’s Information Presentation given by Donald Sostek, the Director of Sostek Home Care. (more…)
This is a collection of a number of tips and tricks used by professionals to manage AD and provide the patient with the best quality of life. Most can be easily incorporated into your daily interactions with your Alzheimer’s family member. Though it may be difficult to modify our daily behavior, realize that it comes with a great benefit to those struggling with AD to be in a calm and structured environment!
Approaches for the Caregiver
● Non-confrontative speech and actions
● Check environmental cues and triggers; such as lighting, shadows, noise
● Visual signs, i.e..”STOP, TOILET” instead of words
● Finger foods
● Pacing patterns, allows for energy to be expended
○ Cover doorways to redirect from exits
● Break down ADL (activities of daily living) tasks into steps, i.e…brushing teeth then bathing then dressing for bed
● Words may lose their meaning for an individual with AD, modify your communication accordingly; speak slowly and clearly while trying to avoid confusing language
○ Enhance your message with visual cues; facial expressions and gestures are helpful
● Approach from the front in a friendly, gentle manner
○ Smile and use touch in your communication
○ Utilize direct eye contact and speak slowly
● Turn off background noises which may be distracting
● Avoid questions, open ended questions or requests, be direct and engage in decision making with only one or two choices
○ Try using “Let’s go to the store” instead of “Do you want to go to the store?” or “Is there anything you need at the store?”
● Always remain as calm as possible
○ Emotional areas of brain will pick up on your mood if you are upset; Smile and use facial cues, a positive mood is best
● Use humor, laugh as much as possible, have a happy demeanor but do not tease!
○ Conversations need to have a very literal interpretation, sarcasm, dry humor or teasing will most likely not be picked up by the patient
● Move and speak slowly, quick movements may trigger a negative reaction or frighten the patient
● Explain what you are doing clearly and concisely
● Surround their environment with familiar objects, pictures or furniture
Many times our current and future clients come to us with questions on what caregivers can do in their “down time” with patients. Research has shown that for many suffering from Alzheimer’s, simple activities done with the assistance of a caregiver can be not only beneficial but enjoyable for the patients. The double benefit from these simple activities is not only to give them an opportunity to bond with the caregiver but also may allow them to feel as though they are being productive.
One of the unfortunate parts of this disease is that it affects people who have spent their entire lives being productive, whether it be as a homemaker, a businessman, a firefighter etc… Once the disease makes progress, the patient may feel as though they are no longer able to contribute. This, of course, is certainly not true! As the family and friends of an AD patient, we know that just having their presence is enough to suffice but for the patient themselves, being able to contribute in any small way may uplift their spirits! Our resident social worker has provided us with some small projects that caregivers and family alike can do with a family member suffering from AD that will not only stimulate their mental functions but, more importantly, will provide some much needed enjoyment! Remember though, AD can be extremely frustrating for the patient, they may not remember how to do things that used to come naturally, so be patient and understanding with them – and be as helpful as you can!
Activities to Engage an AD Patient
● Some activities may help the patient feel a part of what is happening around them.
○ Gardening, cooking, raking leaves and simple household chores are good examples
● Activities that provide an opportunity for self-expression
○ dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, drawing, painting or coloring
● Try to include some form of exercise in each day’s activities.
○ Walking, throwing a ball, or playing with a pet are simple but provide adequate exercise
● Find a simple task that the person can do with little supervision if the caregiver/family member needs to take care of other necessary household tasks
● Remember that an AD patient’s ability to perform a certain task may vary from day to day or moment to moment
● Do not ask the patient to do a simplified version of an activity or craft in which they once excelled. Their awareness of the skill loss may be painful.
● Encourage and praise the person’s effort regardless of the apparent skill level.
And remember: Creating an atmosphere of quiet activity promotes the feeling that the memory-impaired person continues to be important. Restlessness decreases, and life is more enjoyable for everyone. Enjoy!!
P.S. Do you have any activities that you have found to be successful? We’d love to add to our list!
Every 69 seconds, another person in America develops Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and of Americans over 65, one in eight have the disease in some degree (Source: Alzheimer’s 2011 Facts & Figures). Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking condition that affects an entire family and can be a frightening journey for those who are suffering. Thankfully, public awareness of the disease has been on an upward curve in recent years and in the video below you can watch a video from President Obama calling for Alzheimer’s Disease to be made a national priority. (more…)