As a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, you must practice a lot of patience and flexibility to deal with the responsibilities. The role can be extremely stressful, overwhelming and frustrating, but there are a couple of this that you can do to ease this tension.
The first key to remember is that the person with Alzheimer’s will become frustrated and upset on their own. Your job as a caregiver is to reduce the chances of these outbursts from occurring. It is important for the patient to feel dignified and like an individual. Be sure to:
1) Provide Instructions. It is always best to condense your words and to say what you need in the most direct and concise way possible. When there is a task you both need to accomplish, be sure to be clear and understandable in your directions.
2) Go Slow. Something that might take you 5 minutes to do, might take someone with Alzheimer’s disease 10 minutes. Be sure to factor in more time than necessary when you have things to accomplish. Be sure to remember that the patient might need small breaks, and be sure to factor that into your time management as well.
3) Form a Routine. When there is a routine, things can be calm and clear. The patients know what to expect and it doesn’t leave much room for stress and frustration. Be sure to take care of the most important tasks when the person exhibits the highest amount of energy in the day. This will probably take some observation at first because everyone is different.
4) Include Them. Again, the patient is still an individual and does not want to feel infantilized. If you two are going to listen to music together, offer them a choice instead of choosing for them. If you are getting them dressed in the morning, show them two different outfits instead of just one. This will help them to feel less helpless in their day-to-day lives.
5. Be Prepared for Changes. Although a routine and schedule is very important, be sure to observe the patient and see if any changes need to be made in the schedule. It is good to revisit the success of your scheduling about once a month. While you want structure, remember that flexibility is just as important.