These days there’s a lot more knowledge about Alzheimer’s and I am truly grateful for that. I’m grateful to be part of the knowledge space. By learning more we are better able to handle challenging situations and keep our stress as low as possible. This episode is about how I use knowledge as a coping technique.
When I started my podcast I wanted to share what I had already learned. Fearing that that knowledge wouldn’t provide too many episodes I started staking out other people and their knowledge. Needing to know more myself was another reason.
Producing this podcast gives me knowledge and a wide network of people. I can reach out to this network when I need them. Reaching out to other caregivers is also an excellent way to manage some of our self-care.
But back to knowledge as a coping technique. Let me tell you a story. Many of you know my Mom does not remember that my Dad died. Frequently, she asks me if “her husband” knows where she’s going. She used to ask me every 2 minutes. Frustrating doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. One day I had an “ah-ha” moment. I realized that by answering her with “yes, Dad knows…” it didn’t really answer her concern. Lacking the understanding of our relationship made my answer non-sensical.
Having this “a-ha” moment was only possible because of what I’ve learned. That is the reason I have sought out a guest who can help us all with specific challenges.
Let me tell you about what I got from the Savvy Caregiver training.
First, if you think the savvy caregiver program is going to teach you how to make your loved one be better, remember more I can tell you that’s not the case at all. This program trains us, the caregiver. Alzheimer’s & dementia affect each person differently so each of us has our own unique struggles. Despite the differences, however, each of us has to learn how WE have to change, to make this journey with our loved one more bearable.
Guiding the behavior of our loved ones will take up a considerable part of our day. The term behavior only means action in this context, not good or bad behavior. Learning how to make this happen isn’t hard. Ask yourself these questions;
- What has your loved one always liked to do?
- In everyday life, what have they done to get through the day?
- What do you like to do and share with this person?
Make your list and keep revising it as you go. Some tips to consider as they progress with the disease.
- What parts of an activity to try with the person
- How much and what kind of control to exert?
- Do we need to provide help & if so, how much?
- What to watch out for that tells you when to back off or try something else.
Six months after Mom moved into the memory residence I wanted to help her create Christmas gifts for the grandkids. Working on the advice to simplify activities they’ve always enjoyed. I selected a project that I thought she’d enjoy. Having to continually remind her of what we were doing should have been my first clue. Mom constantly worried about doing it wrong.
What I thought was poor memory as the cause wasn’t the case. Because Mom’s visual-spatial processing is poor, I didn’t realize that she didn’t comprehend what she was doing. What could have been an enjoyable afternoon turned into a frustrating one? At this point all I do with Mom is people watch.
Other Challenging Behaviors
Walking or Pacing
Walking and pacing are common and frustrating behaviors. Many people with dementia walk a lot. It is important to distinguish between good walking from disturbed walking. Pacing can provide a way to wear off excess energy. Some folks who walk or pace a lot seem to be searching for something. There is often a troubled quality in the way they move. Do they look concerned, lost or troubled?
Look for a pattern in their walking. Is there a repetitive quality that might allow you to “break” the cycle they’re in? Some people living with memory loss get into loops and don’t know how to stop. If we’re vigilant, we might see the place where we can ease them into a different activity.
Another common issue is nighttime wakefulness. This may be because they wake up to use the bathroom and not understanding that it’s still night. Sometimes their sleep pattern may be disrupted due to the disorder. Sometimes they sleep short periods of time. Some suggestions that I’ve learned may help.
Guide your person back to bed. Hopefully, this cue may be enough to reinitiate sleep. This guiding may be more effective the sooner it is done. Hopefully, if you catch them quickly enough they won’t be in complete wakeful mode and go back to sleep.
Failing that, stay with them for a while. They may be more confused in the night and the added comfort of your presence will soothe them back to sleep. Maybe give a comfort snack a try, like cookies and milk. Try to keep your loved one quiet to foster sleep either way.
Have them help with the evening chores to help tire them out. Maybe go for a walk together before settling down for the evening.
If all else fails, consult their physician. Careful management of drugs can help the person to sleep without being drowsy the next day.
These techniques are just a few things caregivers can learn to make their job easier. Providing care is already challenging enough, we need to do all we can to make it easier.
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Also, check out our new YouTube channel where you can see us in action!