To someone who is taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s, one of the most important things to them is to know that their loved one is happy. However, caregivers are often so overwhelmed by the responsibility of caregiving that the joy of being with their loved one is lost.
All interactions between caregiver and loved one sometimes devolve into survival and not enrichment. This often results in a negative atmosphere affecting that affects everyone. If left unchecked, the resulting tensions will often lead to behavioral issues from both individuals.
Avoid Slipping Away from Socializing
If care partners (the person with Alzheimer’s and his or her caregiver) are unsure how to act around each other, they are in danger of falling into a world of isolation. They may worry about what others think or feel their situation is one that no one understands. Care partners can become so uncomfortable that they may withdraw from family, friends, and society.
Changing these tendencies is important to the health and well-being of both individuals because meaningful human interaction, whether in a one-on-one situation or in a group setting, is important to everyone’s happiness.
Give Loved Ones Purpose and Confidence
The Best Friends Dementia Bill of Rights states that every person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has the right “to experience meaningful engagement throughout the day.” Whether this engagement is activity or socially based, it’s always important to empower the individual to be successful.
For instance, if the person is having a conversation with a friend but can’t remember a detail, subtly filling in the missing fact can help. Or, if he or she is searching for the peanut butter to make a sandwich, placing it on the counter might reduce any agitation.
Finding Happiness Every Day
While a caregiver will routinely look back at how things were, it’s vital to appreciate that the person with Alzheimer’s is the same person they were in the past. It’s the disease that’s making the individual act different and typically, the things they enjoyed before will still bring them happiness.
With Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important that engagement is adapted to meet the changing needs of the individual while focusing on the things that enrich the person’s life and bring happiness. For it to work, the caregiver must accept how things are and discover ways to incorporate meaningful activities on a daily basis.
These men and women still want to be included in activities and to do things for themselves. To foster this need throughout the disease progression, the caregiver needs to provide subtle assistance when appropriate and remain creative in finding ways that create purpose and enrich a loved one’s day.
Enrich Their Lives with Meaningful Activities
Keeping a loved one involved with meaningful activities rather than sitting him or her in front of a television for hours generally results in fewer behavioral complications. It also leads to more meaningful engagement and improved lives for both individuals.
Whether it’s refolding the same basket of clothes several times or helping prepare dinner, keeping loved ones with Alzheimer’s active will improve their mood and keep them involved.
This responsibility can create a lot of pressure for the caregiver, so don’t forget that every caregiver also deserves meaningful engagement on a regular basis. Helping the caregiver find time to step away and engage with other people will also help protect their well-being. See our Caregiver Tips section for more information around caring for your senior loved ones.