Tip of the Week Archives

Tip of the Week Archives

Caregiver Stress Tips

  • It is important that you do not isolate yourself as a caregiver. Find time to socialize with friends and family and participate in social groups when able.
  • Accept offers from friends and neighbors to help you with your caregiving tasks. Other people can help with shopping, take the care recipient for a walk, or do some light cooking to provide you some respite.
  • Ask for help when you need it! Trying to do everything yourself will leave you exhausted and may lead to health problems.
  • To maximize your energy, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding high caloric foods with low nutritional value.
  • As a caregiver, try meditation or relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and visualization, which have been proven to help improve your well being.
  • Take care of your health by getting regular medical check-ups.
  • When the stress of a situation becomes too much, take a break to relax and gain perspective on the problem.
  • Always be sure to make time for yourself. It will make you a better caregiver.

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Daily Care Tips

  • Eating and drinking can become difficult in later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Remember that encouragement, patience, and cueing are the keys to successful meal intake.
  • To avoid frustration in a person with Alzheimer’s disease, try to anticipate needs before they occur. Offering snacks, toileting opportunities, and rest periods throughout the day can create a more comfortable care environment for you and your loved one.
  • Monitor persons with Alzheimer’s disease for signs of difficulty with chewing or swallowing. Any changes in eating behaviors should be reported to a physician.
  • When assisting with personal care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, explain in simple terms what you are doing while you work with that person, even if you think they may not understand.
  • You can enhance self esteem in a person with Alzheimer’s disease by focusing on remaining skills and providing opportunities to use these skills in a successful way.
  • As a caregiver you should reward yourself for accomplishments by taking breaks during the day to enjoy activities that bring you joy.
  • Hydration is a very important aspect of daily care. Offer water or other replacement fluids such as decaffeinated tea, coffee or soda, milk or ice cream, fruit and vegetable juices, soups, pop ice on a stick, or liquid supplements such as Ensure each day.
  • Grooming can be broken up into smaller tasks such as face washing, combing hair and brushing teeth, and can be done at different times of the day to avoid over-stimulating a person with dementia.
  • Be flexible – be ready to change plans if something unexpected happens.
  • When assisting someone elderly, gently hold their hand, wrist, or elbow.  Holding the fleshy part of their arm may bruise or tear the skin.
  • Try not to rush. Allow plenty of time for meals, bathing, or other every day tasks.

Managing Difficult Behaviors Tips

  • When a person with Alzheimer’s disease is displaying agitated behaviors, first assess whether the person has a personal need such as toileting, hunger, thirst, or feeling tired. These needs may precipitate difficult behaviors.
  • Remember that persons with Alzheimer’s disease may ask fewer questions, initiate fewer conversations, and make less eye contact as the disease advances. Encourage simple conversation and opportunities to engage with others.
  • It is best not to argue with a person with Alzheimer’s disease when you have opposite goals or ideas. Delay the conversation or task for another time and redirect the conversation to another topic.
  • Difficult behaviors can often be minimized by providing a pleasant distraction. Offer to take a walk or look for colorful birds outside to change the environment. Offering a snack or a new activity such as watching a favorite movie may also serve as a wonderful distraction.
  • When a person with Alzheimer’s disease is getting agitated, try creating a calm atmosphere by finding a comfortable chair, playing soft music, and providing a quiet activity such as a hand or foot massage.
  • Nighttime wandering is a common problem, but may be improved with regular physical activity during the day such as relaxing walks, gardening, or some forms of yoga.
  • If you find that a person with Alzheimer’s disease is getting agitated with a task at hand, pull back and give that person some space and time. Try again later!
  • If a person with Alzheimer’s disease is having difficulty with a task, show them by doing it yourself first.
  • You may find that planning to do the more difficult tasks during the person’s BEST time of day will reduce disruptive behaviors for persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Safety Tips

  • Store kitchen appliances such as blenders or toasters in a place inaccessible to your person with dementia. This will help to secure the safety of your kitchen.
  • To avoid unnecessary falls, have good lighting in hallways and nightlights in bathrooms and bedrooms.
  • Have important phone numbers near your phone that  include the police, fire department, poison control, doctors, friends, and neighbors in case you need help in a hurry.
  • To increase safety at night, make sure there is a clear path to the bathroom or have a bedside commode available.

Communication Tips

  • Non-verbal communication is important when interacting with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Smile or nod to show you understand what he or she is saying.
  • When a person with Alzheimer’s disease is frustrated or upset, use empathetic phrases such as, “I understand you are upset,” or, “I’m sorry you are feeling sad,” to provide comfort. Remember never to criticize or ridicule them, even when you can’t understand their source of frustration.
  • Use a gentle, relaxed tone of voice when speaking to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Making eye contact will help maintain their attention to what is being said.
  • To enhance communication, make sure a person with Alzheimer’s disease is using his or her glasses or hearing aides for as long as possible during the disease process.
  • Be sensitive to what you are saying within earshot of a person with Alzheimer’s disease about their condition. Always speak in a respectful manner and assume they understand what is being said about them.
  • Positive comments such as, “It’s all right” can help a person with Alzheimer’s disease feel comforted.
  • When giving directions to someone with Alzheimer’s disease, using the most important word last will help them remember.

Sleep Tips

  • If a person with Alzheimer’s disease has not rested well the previous night, you may need to consider reducing loud or challenging activities to ovoid over-exertion or sensory overload.
  • To enhance sleep at night, avoid caffeine after 3:00 p.m., take a relaxing walk before dinner, or take a warm bath before bed. Most importantly, avoid caffeine and alcohol and try to get an average of 6-7 hours of sleep each night.
  • Consider an evening snack before bedtime to ensure your loved one does not awake during the night due to hunger.
  • Alcohol may disrupt sleep. Try providing fruit drinks, flavored waters, or non-alcoholic wine or beer.

Activities Tips

  • Music can provide caregivers and persons with Alzheimer’s disease an opportunity to engage in an activity that requires no words or instructions. Everyone can enjoy the benefits of a favorite record or song.
  • Encourage a person with Alzheimer’s disease to care for plants or pets in the home, which will provide them an opportunity to engage and care for others.
  • Create a reminiscence box for a rainy day. Boxes include familiar items to see, touch, and smell, and can follow themes such as kitchen box, sports box, sewing box, tool box, or jewelry box.
  • Art is an important mode of expression. Try a water color project, kneading clay, or making a paper collage from magazines.
  • Daily exercise is important and may improve appetite. Take a walk, toss a ball, or dance to your favorite music as an enjoyable way of maintaining movement.
  • Some people with Alzheimer’s disease may enjoy listening to music from the past or watching old movies in the evening.
  • Activities can include stirring cake batter, sorting yarn or simple and safe tools, feeding pets, moving to music or singing, finger painting, or walking in the park.
  • Providing meaningful activities, such as washing dishes or sanding a piece of wood can help someone with Alzheimer’s disease reconnect to daily life.

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