Q: HELLOMs.Posvar, it troubles me to see my close friend with this dementia. I don’t know what to do. I pass by her and don’t know what to say to her. She sometimes greets me and sometimes doesn’t remember me. I want to help but don’t know how. Her family are good to her, but no suggestions for help. Is there anything I can do to help as a friend? I am not her caregiver just a friend. I grew up with her.
A: Hello Friend. Some families don’t know if they even need help. You may want to help them figure that out. Your friend with dementia needs you to still be in her life. If you can modify some of the things you use to do with her, she will still have joy. Learn to express your love to her in non-verbal ways as this is what she will understand and rely on as the disease progresses. Songs with fun memories, hugs (depending on the person and stage of the disease), love-touches on the arm, shoulder, back or thigh are good ways to communicate to her. Try not to worry about making a mistake because you will. The only saving grace with this disease while we are all trying to learn how to deal with it is they forget our mistakes. You love her so try again with a different approach. Time does not stand still so we can learn it then help. Most caregivers have to learn it as they go along. As a friend we should do the same. You can also ask the family if they need an errand taken care of that they may put off because of caring for your friend. Or offer to stay with her while they go to a movie or spend time at a social event that they don’t get to do anymore. There are many things we can do to help the carer or the person living with the disease.
Q: Ms.Posvar I just want to know a few tips I should keep in mind while caring for my auntie with dementia? She argues with me too much.
A: You are welcome to attend our support awareness meetings in the Rodney Bay area. TIPS for you: C to Connect to your Aunt; A to Asses her behavior; R to Respond appropriately to her; E to Evaluate what is working; S to Share what works with the rest of the family. C.A.R.E.S. approach is simple to follow. Other things you can do… 1. Try not to take behaviors personally; 2. Remain patient and calm; 3. Explore pain as a trigger; 4. Don’t argue or try to convince; 5. Accept behaviors as a reality of the disease and try to work through it. Know that with patience we can learn from them. These are simple but hard to actually apply them to practice. It takes time so do not be too hard on yourself. One big important suggestion is to be aware of your own limits and know when you need a break so you can continue with care.
Q: I am confused about the stages of Alzheimer’s. I thought when one cannot talk, walk or eat by themselves they are in the later stages of the disease. Is there something I am missing?
A: Alzheimer’s is a steady progressive decline for most people living with it however each person experiences the symptoms very different. No two people with the disease have the exact same symptoms in a pattern. There is a general pattern and each person is unique in how they experience the symptoms. A person affected with Alzheimer’s may also be experiencing other cause of dementia such as Vascular or Lewy Body dementia. The person may have another dementia that is primary to the Alzheimer’s. The stages are just a guide in Alzheimer’s specific and that too can vary per person. There are actually patterns for different types of dementia and the first symptoms of those may not be short memory loss. It can be with their executive thinking skills or maybe they have more symptoms of personality changes. Many types of dementia are associated with abnormal protein fragments and the different fragments are the causes of some dementias and others could be caused by blockage of blood flow to the brain, or a brain injury. These all create different symptoms at different times of a person’s life. A person can be in the late stage for 10 years.
Angels of the West Indies would like to welcome The Voice readers to attend a free Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support for family and friends ~ Saturday August 8, 2015.
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