Helping Frustrated Seniors with Alzheimer’s
By Adult Day Services program supervisor, Alison Sarkozy
Our lives continue full speed ahead. We may have work and family responsibilities, household chores, church activities, neighborhood gatherings and friends that continue to call our attention. But for many primary family caregivers, the first responsibility is the loved one that they offer care and guidance to while some of their competencies slip away due to Alzheimer’s disease. Under these circumstances it may be harder and harder to keep up the pace of your former life.
Here are a few practical tips to reduce frustration for your loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Schedule wisely – hopefully, this will make your time doing “xyz” a pleasant/productive experience. For example: if you know your loved one takes a nap at 1 pm every day, it’s best not to schedule a doctor appointment or a visit with friends during that rest time.
Let him/her help – letting a loved one take part in what you are doing makes them feel useful. For example: Preparing for dinner. Have them help retrieve ingredients or help set the table. The task might have to be broken down into simple steps.
Limit choices – having fewer options makes deciding easier. For example: Asking him/her to get dressed. Place two shirts and two pairs of pants out for them to change into. They still have the option to choose what they want to wear and feel some sense of control. Also, it might speed up the process of getting ready in the morning.
Take more time – Expect things to take longer than they used to. Also, try to do things in a routine fashion. This can help with limiting frustrations.
Try to be flexible – If your loved one is exhibiting frustration, redirection can be helpful. Maybe even try a hug and change the subject. If you both are getting worked up, it sometimes is a good choice to drop it and try again later.
You too, as the caregiver, may be experiencing frustration. Our best advice is to breathe deeply, slow down, and really treasure the time that you have with the one you love. They are still there…don’t let your busy life overshadow them.