The following is a list of more than 20 suggestions for helping the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients cope with their situation. The list has been excerpted from the October 1985 issue of “Helping Hand: A Caregiver’s Newsletter” published by the District VII Area Agency on Aging.
- Take it one day at a time. One problem at a time. The problems become more manageable when you only deal with one at a time.
- Keep your sense of humor. It’s your best defense. Care for yourself. You’re no good to your family member if you’re sick, depressed, rundown, or angry.
- Education. Learn as much as you can about the disease. Teach others about the disease.
- Label everything at home – drawers, cabinets, rooms. Post signs in the hallway with arrows pointing toward important areas. Use reflective tape.
- Use night-lights. Awakening ill darkness can be disorienting. Turn on lights before dusk to prevent sun downing.
- Get a telephone with a memory for frequently called numbers.
- The telephone should have large numbers preferably dark background with white letters/numbers.
- If wanderers are at home, purchase child’s doorstops that can be put across open doors and stairwells. Fence in your backyard for them.
- Place reminders around the house. “Did you take your pills?” etc. Set up a “reality orientation” corner in a prominent place, with a calendar, clock, and maybe blackboard for massages.
- Get an electric stove with covers. Perhaps houseplants or a pet will help in giving the patient a sense of duty or responsibility. Stimulate the senses.
- Be concerned about upcoming legislation. Be aware of how you can help in public education. Write letters.
- In conversation, always use the patient’s name. Speak in slow, clear tones directly to the patient. Don’t bombard the patient with lots of information. If the patient does not respond to commands, take things one step at a time.
- Make dressing easier. Use colorful items of clothing and velcro closings.
- Use large print non-glare printed items.
- Use mental exercises to improve memory as much as possible.
- Use your common sense and imagination. “Necessity is the mother of invention. “
- Structure is needed by these patients. Maintain routines.
- Use rewards to strengthen desired behaviors.
Keep stress to a minimum. Get a plastic clown punching bag. Take out your frustrations on that.