Dr. Ethelle G. Lord
Over 80% of family caregivers are unpaid, home bound, even isolated. These caregivers are overwhelmed with day-to-day responsibilities to someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Remembering4You recommends tips that make the work and life of a caregiver a little easier. Keeping it simple maximizes energy and minimizes the possibility of exhaustion. Here are 6 tips that are easy to adopt and implement in your daily caregiving schedule when providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia:
Tip #1: When caring for an elderly loved one, especially one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, consistently keep meals at the same times every day. Plan your meals ahead of time and avoid giving too many options for meals: “Would you like a tuna sandwich; maybe a bowl of soup; or how about some casserole?” This can be confusing for your loved one, and even small decisions like what to have for lunch can cause anxiety. Try this: “We’re having chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. I know how much you love chicken salad.”
Tip #2: buy a lightweight water pitcher and keep it full. Keep it in an easily accessible place for your loved one. Gently remind them to keep drinking the water. Staying hydrated is important for their overall health and well-being.
Tip #3: If your loved one likes watching TV, buy a remote control with large numbers. Same goes for the phone – if they still chat on the phone with friend and family members, make sure to buy a phone with an oversized keypad they can use. Digital clocks with large numbers placed around the home would also beneficial.
Tip #4: Keep all of their belongings organized and easily accessible. This goes for clothes, too. Picking out an outfit will be much easier if clothes are neat and orderly. Sets can be matched in advanced and put on the same hanger. If the person with Alzheimer’s is still able to dress themselves, this will make it much easier for them to find the proper outfit all on the same hanger. If the family caregiver has to dress their loved one, this will save a great deal of time.
Tip #5: Allow your loved one to make as many of their own decisions as possible. This helps them to feel in control and retain some autonomy. The important thing is to limit the choices because too many choices can be overwhelming, even frustrating.
Tip #6: Know what they love, and do those things with them often. Find what abilities they still have such as playing cards. Talk to them about their memories and sit with them to watch an old movie together. Bake cookies and encourage daily exercises such as taking walks outside or in the mall. Take them out for coffee or tea in order to socialize and for the caregiver to be able to socialize also.
Tip #7: Treat your responsibilities of caregiver the same as you would any other job or employment. Create an operation’s manual that describes every task and every responsibility. If someone has to replace you for some respite or you hire a paid, part-time caregiver, this operation’s manual will be a life saver. Also include your daily tasks in order of importance, a column for remarks, and a column for the initials of the caregiver who performed the task. Remembering4You has a sample form for you to review at http://remembering4you.com/articles/tracking.html.
The first six 6 tips were adapted from “Home Care Tips, http://mashomecare.com/, March 2012”.
About the author: Ethelle G. Lord has her Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix (2010). Dr. Lord is an adjunct Professor of Business and author. She has her own coaching business at Remembering for You (dot) Com and Teamwork Coaching (dot) Com. From 1992-1996 she had a private practice in mental health counseling; in the late 80s she was a paralegal for Legal Services for the Elderly and from 1992-1996 she was a two-term President of the Maine Gerontological Society of Maine. Ethelle is married to Maj. Larry S. Potter, USAF Retired and lives in Maine. Visit us today at http://remembering4you.com and contact the author at Info@remembering4you.com