I often read sites dedicated to senior health care from around the country. Here are some good tips from Family Eldercare of Austin, Texas. Whether you’re the regular caregiver, allowing someone a vacation respite, or dealing with a visiting guest or loved one, your day will be easier with these thoughts.
It doesn’t matter if your dad thinks today is Monday or not. Pick your battles and take on something only if it poses a safety concern.
Your husband has always had a stubborn streak and nothing has changed now that he has dementia. Try distracting him with things he really likes to do. Often you can manage his behavior without getting into a conflict. Maybe he wants to go to the grocery store. Offer to make him a hot fudge sundae and tell him you have everything you need without going to the store.
Identify the underlying need behind challenging behaviors.
Can’t figure out why your mother keeps going to the bathroom? Get her a check-up with her doctor. Perhaps she has a urinary tract infection and needs antibiotics.
Remember that big windstorm that knocked down lots of small branches recently? Leave them until you really need to distract your husband, and then get him out there! He has always enjoyed yard work and can be happy and engaged for hours.
Make simple activities part of the daily routine.
Try to do the activities at a similar time each day. Break the activity down into small steps. Offer praise for each step completed.
If your dad or mom is prone to wandering, register them with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program. This is especially important if you’re travelling or have a visitor who is unfamiliar with the area, or unfamiliar to neighbors.
Check the locks.
Remove the locks on bathroom doors to prevent from accidentally locking. Secure potentially dangerous items, both inside and outside the house. Use childproof latches on kitchen cabinets and any place where cleaning supplies or other chemicals are kept. Label medications and keep them locked up. Secure knives, lighters, matches, guns, etc.
Communicate with respect and care.
Use simple words, short sentences, and a gentle, calm tone of voice. Avoid talking as if your husband weren’t there. Call your husband by name to make sure you have his attention before speaking. Allow enough time for a response. Share joys. Think about ways to bring pleasure and joy to someone with dementia. What type of music did your wife like to listen to? What food did she like? Did she like to hear you sing? Or play the piano?
Set a peaceful tone in the evening to encourage sleep. Develop a bedtime routine. Use nightlights if the darkness is frightening or disorienting, especially if the surroundings are not quite familiar.
These notes are excellent, and I’m happy to pass them along.
Lynn Peel, Beach Glass Transitions