Dementia Personality Changes
Require Caring and Adjustment by the Caregiver
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s who has dementia personality changes can be physically, financially, and emotionally challenging. Adjusting to the gradual changes as Alzheimer’s progresses will require you, as the family caregiver, and your family to make several modifications in the way you look after your loved one. While it’s true that providing this care will mean that every day brings with it a new challenge, there are also reasons to be optimistic.
Because more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, our understanding of the disease and how to care for it is constantly improving. Prepared with a few tips for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, even the most severe symptoms of the disease can be made manageable, allowing you to ensure that your loved one may continue to live a comfortable and rich life for as long as possible.
Adjusting to Changes in Communication
Communication can be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease because they may have difficulty finding the right words, trouble understanding what words mean, and may lose their train of thought while speaking. This can be equally frustrating for family caregivers and those they are caring for, which can make it necessary to adopt a few simple changes in the way you try to communicate with your loved one.
Anytime you need to ask for something, try and offer easy step-by-step instructions, and be ready to repeat them.
If your loved one doesn’t understand something you’re saying, rather than repeating yourself verbatim, try to rephrase what it is you want. It’s also a good idea to simplify your questions. For example, rather than asking, “How are you doing?”, you can ask “Are you hungry?” Enabling a simple “yes” or “no” response often makes communication far easier for both parties.
Adjusting to Behavioral Changes
As Alzheimer’s makes the brain less functional over time, your loved one will inevitably have both good days and bad days as gradual changes in behavior occur. Some of the most common changes include becoming upset or angry more easily, misunderstanding things that are seen or heard, pacing around their environment, wandering from home, or losing interest in favorite activities.
Your loved one may also feel anxiety about going to specific places, confusion following changes in routine, or a feeling of being overwhelmed by every day activities. Left unattended, these changes can lead to losing sleep, alcohol abuse, too much caffeine consumption, and a variety of illnesses.
Adjusting to these changes starts with establishing a daily routine that works for your loved one. For example, if losing sleep becomes a problem, you can plan energetic activities early in the day, reduce caffeine consumption, and encourage a bedtime routine. It’s also a good idea to limit any naps that occur through the day, which can contribute to sleeplessness.
If your loved one decides to start pacing, provide them with comfortable shoes, a safe space to walk, and be sure that they remain hydrated. Should wandering become a problem, be sure that they always carry some kind of identification or medical bracelet, allowing others to know about their illness should they get lost.
It can also be a good idea to contact your neighbors or local police to let them know about your loved one’s condition and inclination to wander. Additionally, many people find it useful to install a door chime that rings each time the door is opened.
Care for Family Caregivers
Above all else, you must learn to respect yourself as a family caregiver. After all, you can’t help your loved one when your own well-being is in jeopardy. That means it’s important to know your limits, both physically and emotionally, and be sure to give yourself sufficient rest. Anytime you find yourself becoming frustrated, give yourself a short time-out. You should also try to spread out the responsibilities of care to as many family members as you can, ensuring that the challenges of care don’t become exhausting.
Although caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is never easy, if you follow these simple Alzheimer’s care tips, you can greatly increase the quality of life for yourself and those you care about most.
You must take care of yourself, before you take care of others