Our Take: Sometimes there is so much information on caring for a person with dementia that things just need to be simplified. At AlzBetter, we are big believers in the Cognitive Load Theory and have created our Targeted Micro Learning™ training videos to be short and to the point to address this. The article below simplifies how we can care for someone with dementia. Share this with your caregivers and the families you work with.
Ten Absolutes of Alzheimer’s Caregiving
By Ava M. Stinnett
Whether it happens gradually or overnight, there’s a distinct possibility that one day you will become a caregiver for a loved one. It may be for a parent, a spouse, or even one of your children. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are more than 65 million unpaid caregivers of adults aged 65 or older in the United States. Often, there’s very little preparation for the daily challenges that caregivers face, particularly if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
There are numerous city and state education programs and services to address the needs of those who provide long-term care for loved ones at home. You’ll also find many excellent books that address the topic of caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association, the Family Caregiver Alliance, A Place for Mom, and Eldercare Locator are just a few of many online organizations that provide information and links to support groups. Talking with medical professionals about changes in diet, exercise, medication, and ways to stay mentally active can also be of benefit. There are practical questions, such as how to manage doctor’s appointments, insurance paperwork, and how to take time off of work. But there are also poignant, soul-searching questions.
In this age of information overload, of having too much information leading to what psychologist David Lewis refers to as “information fatigue syndrome,” here’s a list of 10 absolutes in dementia care. These helpful suggestions written by Jo Huey, an Alzheimer’s caregiver for over 30 years, are culled from both clinical and practical research and provide a straightforward way of managing care.
- Never argue, instead
- Never reason, instead
- Never shame, instead
- Never say “you can’t,” instead say, “do what you can.”
- Never command or demand, instead ask or
- Never condescend, instead encourage and
- Never say “remember,” instead
- Never say “I told you,” instead
- Never lecture, instead
- Never force, instead
If you provide care to someone who has dementia, you may already know of the emotional, mental, and physical challenges that lie ahead. Remembering these absolutes can be more difficult in practice than in theory. However, remaining understanding, patient, and attuned to your loved one’s condition are key to providing the best care possible. As Maya Angelou said, “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Huey, J. (2008). Alzheimer’s disease: Help and hope (2nd ed.). Alzheimer’s Institute.
Mace, N.L. & Rabins, P.V. (2012). The 36-hour day: A family guide to caring for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, and memory loss. New York: Grand Central Publishing.
Scot, P.S. (2014). Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical tips and soul-saving wisdom for caregivers. San Francisco: Eva-Birch Media.