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Caution – Avoid These Mistakes at All Costs

Posted Apr 21 2013 11:22am
Although there's no way to know for sure, my conviction is that the person is really "in there" somewhere and we should always assume the person may know and feel more than he or she can express.

By +Marie Marley
Alzheimer's Reading Room


Alzheim,er's disease
Let's face it. Caring for a person with Alzheimer's is hard work. You will probably have to deal with personality changes and difficult behaviors.

You may be asked the same question over and over. You will eventually face issues with bathing, dressing and toileting. Your loved one may wander off if you aren't careful.

As time goes by you may have to grapple with the decision to place your loved one in a long-term care facility. And the list goes on and on.

But the most painful thing you will ever face as an Alzheimer's caregiver is that you slowly lose the person you love.

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If you read books, attend presentations and talk to experts about Alzheimer's caregiving, you'll get a seemingly unending string of advice. Some suggestions will be good; others won't.

What I want to achieve in this article is to offer some ideas about five things Alzheimer's caregivers should never do.

Don't Be in Denial

When a loved one shows signs of dementia it's painful to acknowledge it. It's common for their friends and loved ones to be in denial. It's easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, push the symptoms to the back of your mind, and find other ways to avoid thinking even for a minute that the person may have dementia.

The problem with denial is it doesn't lead you to take your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete workup. And the problem with that is that sometimes dementia is caused by health issues other than Alzheimer's. Some of those problems can be treated or even reversed. And if it is Alzheimer's the earlier treatment is started, the better.

Don't Ask "Do You Remember?"

Asking a person with Alzheimer's if they remember something is a common mistake that's easy to make. It's almost as though we think we can jog their memory. But we rarely do.

They have probably forgotten the event in question. That's what people with Alzheimer's do. They forget. So it's better to say, "I remember when . . . " and then tell them a story.

Don't Argue With or Contradict the Person

If you're caring for someone with dementia it's so easy to contradict or argue with them when they say things that are total nonsense. And they typically say a lot of things that fall into this category. For instance, they may think they are a child again or they may tell you stories that couldn't possibly be true.

But the fact of the matter is that you can never win an argument with people who have dementia. They will stick to their guns to the bitter end! It's much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument that would spoil your time with your loved one.

Don't Stop Visiting When Your Loved One No Longer Recognizes You

Some people think that there's no reason to visit a loved one in a nursing home who no longer recognizes them, but I am firmly convinced that you should visit anyway.

First of all the person may enjoy being visited even if he or she doesn't quite know who is visiting them. More importantly, it's possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn't able to say so.

We never know whom Alzheimer's patients do and do not recognize somewhere deep down.

Although there's no way to know for sure, my conviction is that the person is really "in there" somewhere and we should always assume the person may know and feel more than he or she can express.

Do any of you have suggestions of other things an Alzheimer's caregiver should never do?

A different version of this article was published on the Huffington Post .


Come Back Early Today:
A Story of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy
Marie Marley, PhD, is the award award winning author of, Come Back Early Today: A Story of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. You can visit Marie’s website at ComeBackEarlyToday.
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