Millions of people are acting as Alzheimer's caregivers to their loved ones. This is a big responsibility and a difficult undertaking for anyone. Unfortunately, so many people acting as caregivers to Alzheimer's patients have no formal caregiver training and must watch and try to help their loved one go through this debilitating disease. The journey for every Alzheimer's caregiver is different, but it is always challenging. Here are some of the most critical tips for Alzheimer's caregivers to remember.
1. Don't Lie to Yourself One of the most important things you can do when you are providing Alzheimer's care is to be honest with yourself. Don't be in denial. It is easy to be in denial when your loved one starts to show serious signs of dementia, but you aren't helping anyone by ignoring or refusing to accept these signs. You need to be honest and capable of accepting the reality in front of you.
2. Don't Argue There is no way to win an argument or use logic to prove a point to someone with dementia. If you disagree, don't argue with them it will only make them upset. Try not to contradict them. Stop. Take a deep breath and remember it is the disease talking. When this happens try to connect with them at their level and move on from the argument.
3. Don't Ask Them Why They Can't Remember This may seem like an obvious point, but it is an important one, and one that many Alzheimer's caregivers unfortunately forget. It can be very heartbreaking when a loved one like a parent who you care for every day, doesn't remember you, but you must stay calm. Don't ask them why or push the subject and just try to accept that this is an unfortunate side effect of their condition.
4. Don't Stop Visiting Them When a loved one no longer remembers who you are or who any of their family members are, many people will stop visiting them. Don't. Just because they don't recognize you or don't recognize their children, it doesn't mean they don't have feelings and don't enjoy the company. It will be difficult but you need to keep visiting them and encouraging others to do the same.
5. Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself Caring for an individual with Alzheimer's disease is a big undertaking. Even if they are in a facility and you only need to care for them and visit them a few times a week, it can be very overwhelming physically, mentally and emotionally. Many people deal with stress, depression, and guilt if they ever leave town or aren't near their loved one. It is important that you take care of yourself when acting as an Alzheimer's caregiver and that you don't allow this stress and pressure to overwhelm you. You still need to rest, do things for yourself, take vacations, and give yourself much deserved breaks. The better you take care of yourself, the better caregiver you will be for your loved one.
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