"Be Prepared" is the Girl Scout motto (or at least it used to be!) Today's DailyCaring editorial is a handy guideline to sharing with family and friends in order to prepare them for a visit with someone who has Alzheimer's or dementia. This is another timely set of tips for the holiday season.
#1 Mistake Made By Alzheimer's Caregivers
Don’t try to fix them
The most common mistake you can make when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to try to bring them back into your reality or remind them of the truth.
Your intentions are good. You think you can help your older adult get back to normal if you remind them about things or explain what’s real. But the reality is, getting back to normal just isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you try.
Having Alzheimer’s or dementia is a scary and confusing experience for your older adult. Using logic and reason to explain why you're right and they're wrong will only cause them to get more confused, agitated, defensive, and act out with difficult behavior.
Tips on how to respond
So, how can you help prevent your older adult from getting more upset or behaving in difficult ways? Here are some tips we learned from an expert Alzheimer’s support group leader.
● Respond with logic and reason
● Pay strict attention to their words - they may not actually mean what they say
● Keep trying to convince them to see or do things your way
● Say “Don’t you remember?”
● Say “No, you’re wrong.”
● Say “Don’t do that.”
● Tell them that people they’re talking about or waiting to see are already deceased
● Respond to the emotion or intention behind the words
● Distract them with an activity they enjoy
● Redirect the conversation to a pleasant, positive, or neutral topic
● Use therapeutic fibbing - agree with things that aren’t true or bend the truth in harmless ways if it calms the situation
● Without words, find ways to assure them that they’re safe and cared for - hugs or gentle touching often works well
Don’t be discouraged if your attempts to soothe or redirect don’t work every time! This is a skill that improves with practice. In time, you’ll figure out what works best for your senior.
Why this approach works better
When you pay attention to the situation and emotions rather than the words, it helps you uncover your senior’s true needs. Instead of arguing, shift the mood to something more calm and positive. You’ll thank yourself when you don’t have to get into the same screaming match for the 38th time.
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By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Exposing the Truth