When you have an older relative, likely a parent or a grandparent, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a similar condition that affects their cognitive ability, it can be an overwhelming challenge. But treatment methods have come a long way in recent years and medical professionals better understand not just methods for improving the quality of life of patients, but also for better managing the care process itself. Here are three care strategies you should keep in mind as you begin this journey with your loved one.
Have a Conversation – Focus on the Past
It’s important to maintain an affectionate and reassuring relationship with a relative who is suffering from dementia, as they are already anxious and confused about their illness. Alzheimer’s generally affects a person’s short term memory more than long term, so when you strike up a conversation with them, focus on the distant past rather than things that happened only hours ago. Rather than asking what they had for lunch yesterday, ask them about their childhood or their schooldays. If they get frustrated due to their inability to communicate something, you can help by reducing the number of open-ended questions you ask. Provide specific options, for example, when you’re helping them get dressed, ask: “Would you like to wear this sweater today?”
Give Yourself a Break
If you’re the full time caregiver of a relative suffering from Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand your own limits and avoid burnout. Whether it’s on a full time, live in basis, or just a weekly respite so that you can restore your own health and focus on your needs, options like Mavencare home health care for seniors bring professional, qualified caretakers to your home. Some of the signs that it’s time for you to take a step back and ask for help include:
- Overeating or undereating
- You find yourself drinking more or smoking more
- You find yourself short-tempered with your loved one
There is even a stress meter survey you can take, and while it’s not a medical tool, it might help put some perspective on your energy and your relationship.
Montessori Methods for Dementia
Many dementia caregivers who work with companies that value extra training and education like Mavencare are familiar with a model known as the Montessori Method, originally a system for teaching small children that has recently been gaining popularity as an Alzheimer’s treatment. It rests on the core philosophy of helping the patient reengage with the world and derive happiness and satisfaction from it. Based on the principle that the earliest skills an individual learns are the last skills that he or she loses when a cognitive disorder sets in, the Montessori method isn’t just care, it’s about getting the patient to complete simple tasks that will engage their long term memory, like putting flowers in a vase. It’s a skill highly valued by agencies such as Mavencare because it is about so much more than just providing assistance with activities of daily living. Caregivers trained in Montessori Methods workwith their patients on skill building exercises such as motor skills by engaging the same areas of the brain that are involved in dressing or eating. In addition to rehabilitating the patient’s capacity to perform essential activities of daily living, it gives patients a feeling of sense worth by restoring an active role in their own lives.