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Guidelines for Preparing To Give Care

By REGINA D. Posvar LPN,RNA
By REGINA D. Posvar LPN,RNA

Q: Dear Regina, my sister informed me that my mother has Alzheimer’s and she is in the middle stages, from what I understand. I am moving back to the island to help my sister with my mother’s care. Do you have any guidelines that we can follow that would help us with our mom?

A: This will be a long journey for you and your sister. There are a few things to consider to help a person with memory impairment. How much supervision, care and help needs will depend on the extent of the disease. As a person continues through the progressive stages of the disease, guidelines are essential with improving the quality of life for everyone. According to “A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication: These are a few general caregiving tips.

• Keep expectations realistic
• Maintain a calm atmosphere

1. creating comfort: The more secure and comfortable the person feels the less likely there will be behaviour problems. If the person becomes upset it is important for you to remain calm
2. avoid confronting or overloading the person
3. all activities and events simple and short
4. keep your voice calm and reassuring
5. don’t argue or scold the person as the person’s behaviour uis a result of the disease, not stubbornness or willfulness
• Simplify tasks and limit choices, it decreases confusion
1. Break complex tasks into simple steps and give step-by-step instructions
2. Demonstrate each step. Sometimes they need help with just getting started and then they can complete the task.
3. Limit the choices: for example bring out two items of clothing to choose from, or only put out flatware that is safe to use

• Be consistent ~ doing things the same way and in the same order each day will help make it easier to get through the day. Doing things exactly the same time each day (like breakfast at 8 a.m.) is not as important as keeping routines orderly (like first we get up, go to the bathroom, have breakfast and bathe). If you go on walks, use the same door and use the same route. Choose difficult tasks at the person’s best time of the day.

1. Establishing a daily routine based on the person’s life-long patterns if possible
2. Posting the daily schedule helps the person who can still read and the other helpers in the home
• Use memory aids and cue
• Make environment safe
• Use reminiscence
• Approach the person from the front slowly
• Treat them as an adult and include them in the conversation
• Reassure and praise to build self esteem and feelings of success
• Maintain the attitude of respect and dignity and allow them to do as much for themselves as possible, even if the task is not done as well as you would like.
• Maintain your sense of humour
We have had a few questions on how to talk to a person. Here are some tips for talking to a person with dementia
• Call the person by name. Some people may respond better to a childhood nickname, and sometimes a married woman may not respond to married name, try their maiden name.
• Speak slowly and clearly
• Talk about real actions and objects
• Keep statements short and simple
• Be specific
• Keep questions simple
• Avoid complicated, multiple-part questions
• Provide solutions rather than ask questions
• Avoid saying “Remember? Remember when?” these questions increase frustration
• use nouns not pronouns
• Make positive statements
• Use positive non-verbal communication
• Use the persons vocabulary: example would be if the person uses the word potty for toilet then use “potty”
• Use touch: when a person can no longer speak, touching can become the most meaningful way to communicate. Tender hugs, holding hands, gently combing hair and giving a message can communicate acceptance, love and care. Each person has a different level so this is to be on an individual basis. Misinterpret meanings can occur so respond calmly if it happens.

These are just some ways to help. Each person experiences the symptoms differently and everyone has different responses. The caregiver is the one with the healthier brain so we are the ones that make the change to help them function at their best. This is difficult to do in many situations given the family relations. We will make mistakes so learn from them and forgive yourself. There is no one answer for all. Join or create a caregiver support group so you can share and help each other out. There are many online support groups for those who can’t get away often. Learn as much about the disease as possible. Be creative and always take time for you and your own health needs.

Send questions to angelsofthewest@outlook.com or whatsapp at 758-486-4509

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