It is important for care givers to research ways to routinely care for their loved ones. Most often we hear of the frustration of care givers because they don’t understand what is happening or why. The national website for the Alzheimer’s Association, http://www.alz.org, can lead care givers in the right direction. This is a very user-friendly comprehensive site that allows you to explore the brain and learn about the physiology of the progression of the disease.
If you are looking for more hands-on information that will help you make your loved one more comfortable, www.alz.org can also help you with those issues. Behavioral changes may be difficult to understand for both of you. Perusing this site will allow you to become more familiar with what and why changes are occurring. It lists five different causes for behavioral changes:
•Physical discomfort caused by an illness or medications
•Overstimulation from loud noises or a busy environment
•Unfamiliar surroundings such as new places or inability to recognize home
•Frustrating interactions due to the Inability to communicate effectively
They recommend the care giver identify and examine the behavior in question. The caregiver should also explore potential solutions and determine if the response had a calming effect or if another solution needs to be tried in the future.
Sometimes these behavioral changes surface as aggressive behaviors, which need to be addressed. They list appropriate responses and explain each response:
•Identify the immediate cause-what happened right before the outburst
•Focus on feelings, not the facts-consider the person’s emotions, look for feeling behind the words
•Don’t get angry or upset-don’t take the behavior personally, be positive and reassuring
•Limit distractions-examine the person’s surroundings reduce distractions
•Try a relaxing activity-use music, massage or exercise
•Shift the focus to another activity
•Decrease level of danger-Step back and avoid confrontation if the person is not doing something potentially harmful to himself.
•Avoid using restraint or force-this may actually cause the person to become frustrated and cause more harm.
Any change in environment (even something as simple as changing clothes) can cause agitation in your loved one. Be sure to use a soothing tone while talking with an agitated person and always treat the person with respect. Routine is recommended and the Alzheimer’s Association site has a link to a calendar for you to set up. For those who do not have access to a computer the association’s phone number is 1-800-272-3900. You can call them and they will help you find the resources you need.