Preserving the dignity and quality of life of a family member overcome with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is easier to do when you are familiar with the individuality of the AD patient. The following is a checklist of important information you should know about the loved one you are caring for:
- How does he or she prefer to be identified – Mr. or Mrs., doctor or professor, or another title that is appropriate? You should still address your loved one as you always have, including Ma, Mom, or Mother, or Dad, Daddy, or Father.
- Be respectful of his or her privacy. If your loved one always gets undressed in private, being undressed by a stranger can cause a negative reaction.
- Patient self-esteem is important, so be sure that daily grooming and personal hygiene take place.
- Understand that the behaviors displayed by patients with Alzheimer’s Disease do not make the contributions of AD patients during their productive lifetime any less significant. These patients are often our parents or other close family members and talking to a patient as if he or she is a child or a pet is disrespectful and perhaps harmful to your loved one.
- Be reassuring when you approach loved ones with dementia. Often patients feel frightened from the insecurity they face all the time because they do not understand what is taking place in their surroundings due to cognitive and communication impairments.
- Touching is a great way of communicating. Hugs, kisses, and holding hands are all positive ways to touch an AD patient. In the early stages, the patient craves the physical demonstration of love. Later on, perhaps at a deeper mental level, patients enjoy the comfort of your loving and healing touch – even if they no longer recognize you.
- Listen to your AD patient. While his or her communications may sound irrational to others, it does not sound that way to AD patients themselves.
When answering questions your loved one may pose to you, remain optimistic and honest with your AD patient. While cognitive abilities are not badly impaired, let them know that while AD is progressive and incurable, a number of treatments are available with new ones coming out frequently.
Your loved one needs your support, and you need to know how to provide this Alzheimer’s care. Alongside with the Alzheimer’s Association and other valuable sources, we can now offer the Accessible Alzheimer’s Handbook at no charge. It is our quest to help you manage your loved one’s needs, so grab the free guide to learn more information.