Stefanie helps families every day! Ask and read about common challenges here.
As with most things related to Alzheimer’s caregiving, dealing with difficult behaviors requires planning, simplification and patience. As Alzheimer’s progresses, poor hygiene can often become more than just an unpleasant issue: it can have medical consequences, such as bacterial infections (UTIs). Gastroenteritis and other health issues can occur, some quite serious to an already weakened immune system.
Because Alzheimer’s is a steady deterioration of cognitive functions, a person with dementia (PWD) will start to get confused about seemingly simple things, like how to wash their hair. Perceptions will start to be impacted; a tub of water can become a scary thing as the ability to perceive depth is lost. Mirrors can create a sense of strangers being present in the bathroom. A smelly shirt may be more comforting than a freshly laundered – but unfamiliar – replacement. A PWD may be overwhelmed by everyday products on the bathroom counter, perhaps using a hair product as toothpaste.
Understanding that a PWD’s perceptions are increasingly distorted by the disease’s progression, and focusing on creating positive routines, may help caregivers get through difficult behaviors. Continue reading “Difficult behaviors: bathing and personal hygiene” »
We had an interesting article sent to us about a topic we hear about from time to time: caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who you might not consider to be a “loved one.”
What If They’re Not?
We were in the middle of caregiver workshop, the second session which was now focusing on caring for yourself while caring for a person with dementia. Deborah, a lovely lady sitting in the corner of the table, raised her hand in this small group of about 12 people and I said, “Deborah, you don’t have to raise your hand. Go ahead.” She replied, “What if they’re not?” I naturally said, “What if they’re not what?” To which she replied, “What if they’re not your loved one?” The discussion stopped as we all thought in silence about the question she had just asked. Continue reading “What if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s who is not a loved one?” »
Holidays can be challenging for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and can be a particularly stressful time for caregivers. The added layer of seemingly required holiday rituals, family and other social obligations, may completely tear apart an already stretched thin caregiving schedule. If you know a caregiver or their loved one, what can you do to help? If you are a caregiver, how can others help you?
Reach out and share the precious gift of time
Bake some cookies or provide a frozen meal for a caregiving neighbor or friend. Bring a treat or holiday cards to an assisted living facility, or spend an afternoon listening to some old-time music with someone without local family. Smile. Hold a hand or pat a shoulder. Make a coupon book for a caregiver, providing coupons for cleaning service, errands or respite time. Ask friends to do the same for you. Continue reading “Helping Alzheimer’s Families – Including Your Own – Survive the Holidays” »
For people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, yesterday can be difficult to recall, but yesteryear can still be totally intact. Before the disease progresses too far, it is a wonderful idea to try and capture fading memories. Capturing the past provides personal insights and stories relating to both your loved one and the entire family. As an added bonus, an effort focused on preserving memories can be both a nice family sharing activity, as well as a therapeutic and comforting process for your loved one. Continue reading “Preserving Memories” »
The rule of thumb when talking to kids about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), is to be simple and honest, try and educate them (age-appropriately), and realize that they may be having a lot of feelings that they may not be able to – or want to – articulate. Those feelings may be wide-ranging, from concern about their loved one (many times this is a grand-parent), to conflicted feelings about their loved one’s caregiver (many times this is actually the child’s parent who now has less time for the child), to feelings of embarrassment around their peers. Continue reading “Talking to Kids about Alzheimer’s Disease” »