Tips on Coping With Alzheimers and Dementia

coping with alzheimers and dementia

Losing a loved one does not always mean death. Alzheimers and Dementia cause young and old to be “lost” to a degree as reason and memory decline.

There will never be enough information or time to adequately prepare you for Alzheimers and dementia. Diseases such as these challenge family and caregivers to learn new ways of coping with subtle or drastic changes.

These helpful tips will encourage and help you recognize and deal with these changes.

  1. Alzheimers and dementia seem to come in stages, slowly at first, then progressing—often showing up in suppressed anger or resentment. It is vital to recognize the cause.
  2. Watch closely for changes in eating habits, fears over trivial happenings, or tears or laughter at inappropriate times. Be sure to report these changes to health care providers, however insignificant they may seem at the time.
  3. It may not feel “right” to take away a loved ones’ privileges but it is the safest and best choice for them. God will send His loving peace as you do the hard thing for them.
  4. As you determine a schedule for yourself and your family, know it may–most likely will–need adjusting. As it has been said, “just go with the flow!”
  5. Plan even small activities for her/him. No one needs to be sitting in a chair all day with no activity. They may not recall the activity later, but their body and spirit will benefit greatly; so will yours. Often Mother helped me with chores like folding washcloths which I refolded later.
  6. Laughter truly is the best medicine as taught in the Scriptures. Your loved one will reflect what they see on your face–let them see joy and fun instead of fear and grief. I learned quickly to laugh at Mother’s messes so she would feel comfortable.
  7. Be alert always to changes. Just when you feel you’ve conquered a situation, a new one will appear suddenly and often without warning.
  8. It is God’s love in you and your love for that special person that will inevitable get you through the long–lasting journey.

Above all, love and accept the person as they are now.

To quote Debra White from her book, SHE TOUCHED MY HEART, “No longer will mom walk in confusion and fear; but her mind will be restored. She will know as she is known. She will walk on streets of gold … she will worship at the feet of Jesus as she declares Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No evil will abound near her … never another tear, no sadness, only peace, love and joy.”  

To learn more about Debra’s book, click here.

9 Helps for Siblings With Elderly Parents

siblings with elderly parentsWhat makes a family caregiver?

Experience? Training? Need? Probably all of the above at one time or another. Siblings with elderly parents become caregivers often because they seem the logical solution to their needs.

Because you do love them, proceed with caution.

Simply because you are available; live closer; or may have the time and finances, you may not be the one to do the caregiving. And, if another solution is best, it does not diminish your love and concern for their well-being.

1 Take time to honestly evaluate the situation. Is this really a short-term need or could it evolve into a year-long commitment or more?

2 Is it really to their best interest to stay in their own home? If it seems to be a long-term commitment, would an assisted living facility better provide their needs? Have you talked with them about all the options?

3 Consider carefully how this will affect your family. Is your spouse supportive of this arrangement? Do you have small children to consider? (Note, it isn’t just “small” children; sometimes our teens are the most needy of a strong parent to guide them.)

4 Talk with the other siblings involved. THIS IS OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE. Be sure each child understands what will be needed from them. Do not be afraid of voicing your expectations up front. You need to know who will be there for you; you need a team.

5 Decide in the beginning of the care who will be in charge. Regardless of which one is actually staying in the home, who will be the go-to person if there is confusion? Who will be the one responsible to make the final decision?

6 What will be needed to provide proper care? Can you keep up with the overall needs? Would another sibling be better suited to provide extra funds as needed while you do the caregiving? Does maintenance need done on the home? Who will do that? Who will pay?

7 Outline the daily and weekly needs of the home. Who will be doing the shopping? Who will be in charge of the kitchen? Make sure everyone involved is aware of any special dietary needs or allergies.

8 Is there is a yard to keep or outside responsibilities? Which child is best suited for that? Who will be the outside go-to person to avoid conflict later? Consider what has been important to the parents in the past. If you cannot keep the yard as they have done, try moving favored plants to planters so they can be seen from the windows.

9 Are you aware of their end-of-life decisions? Do they have living wills, health care directives, powers of attorney, or other matters that need updated? Does the family have an attorney? These things are often difficult to discuss as the older generation kept things to themselves. I can still hear my mother saying, “That is none of your business!” It was a challenge to get beyond that hurdle so she could receive the best of care.

God tells us to honor our father and our mother.

That may mean caring for them when we might rather be doing other things with our lives. It may mean entrusting their care to others. I challenge you to spend time in prayer before making decisions. Then, review the questions as best you can, and get a good support team for the journey.

Blessings to each of you; let me hear from you.

Hugs,

siblings caring for elderly

For an article on items mentioned in tip #9 above (living wills, etc.) click here.