December 16th

 

During the holidays it may be difficult when a beloved family member is suffering from dementia. That’s why you’ll need to take special care this year to ensure that the season is as festive as possible.

 

Communicate concerns: In advance of the holidays, be upfront with family and friends about your loved one’s condition and your concerns, and enlist their support. Use this season of giving as an opportunity to discuss sharing family responsibilities to strive for family togetherness.

 

Set realistic expectations: Consider both what the individual with dementia is capable of and what you can handle. Then, put celebrations into manageable proportions. This can help decrease stress for all involved.

 

 

 

December 17th

 

Altering routines for your Alzheimer’s patient may aggravate confusion and behavioral problems. But, there is a fine balance that can be achieved here. While you want to keep general routines the same, you should try to alter small elements as to add variety to normal everyday events.

 

Mealtime is often the best time to create some variety in the routine by preparing and presenting a variety of foods. Small changes will also make the job of caregiving more functional and productive. It is vitally important to keep yourself (the caregiver) aware of the perils of caregiver burnout. Caregivers often report a much higher rate of illness compared to the general population.

 

There are many techniques and practices the caregiver can undertake to ensure they stay as healthy as possible during their time as a caregiver. Check back at this site often, as there will be several tips each month related to caregiver stress.

 

 

 

December 18th

 

As alternative medicine gains more popularity among the general public, and even now is getting consideration within some circles of the medical community, alternative Alzheimer’s treatments are also being considered.

 

One treatment that some claim has had tremendous benefits has been the use of cinnamon. There are no long-term clinical studies that have shown any benefits, but many claim the use of cinnamon in relatively small doses on a daily basis has improved the condition of their Alzheimer’s patient dramatically. Reversing the effects of the disease by 12-24 months. Cinnamon has also been linked as a help with diabetes and as an anti-viral. But, warnings have also been issued that high doses of cinnamon can be toxic.

 

As with any potential remedy, you should research the internet and the reference section of your local library to come to your own conclusion as to whether to attempt any “self medication” for your Alzheimer’s patient. But, with the resources and information available to the general public these days, it most assuredly is worth the time and effort to research potential alternative courses of treatment.

 

 

 

December 19th

 

When one or more family members are in denial about a loved ones Alzheimer’s disease, it is very important for other family members or outside counsel to get involved. The longer there is denial, the more difficult it will be for all involved.

 

Most communities have counseling resource referral services. Contacting your local Council of Aging should guide you in the right direction. Also, your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association usually has support groups that meet on a regular basis in most communities. These groups can be a wonderful resource for anyone struggling with acceptance of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. 

 

 

 

December 20th

 

People have been mispronouncing and misspelling the word Alzheimer’s for decades. Even those who work with Alzheimer’s patients and clients on a daily basis will say it or spell in wrong. Let’s face it, it’s not a common or easy word to say or spell. I have noticed though that many are hurt when they feel someone (who they feel should know the word) say it incorrectly. This sounds like a trivial matter, but it can be a source of deep frustration and hurt for some. So, as a caregiver you should take some time to learn the proper pronunciation.

 

The biggest mispronunciation and spelling is Altimers. Or using the name without the possessive S ( Alzheimer ). Also, some still call it Old Timers disease. This may be a funny play on words to some, but to many families struggling with a loved one having the disease, there is nothing funny about it. Even some physicians make light of the name and pronunciation. Some physicians even fail in their interaction with the Alzheimer’s patient (with the mind-set that the patient won’t know the difference). But more studies show that many with the disease (while unable to communicate as they once did) know when they are being ignored or dismissed. The tip today is the Alzheimer’s patient should always be treated with respect. NEVER treat the Alzheimer’s patient like a child.

 

December 21st

 

 

Most caregivers often ignore the signs of stress and burnout. When you are even mildly run down you need to take certain steps to avoid a major melt down. Of course the basics are providing yourself with proper nutrition and exercise. Beyond the basics you can incorporate a few simple things into your daily routine to help with caregiver stress. There is one technique that may sound silly but is often very effective. In decades past it was known as scream therapy. The easiest place to use this treatment is in the car when driving alone. Just start screaming for short intervals. Release as much frustration, pain, and overall tension you can through the scream. You may feel silly doing it, but it really can help.

 

Another tip is to ALWAYS find at least five minutes a day for yourself. This could be while in the shower, or maybe right before bed. Take that time to breath deeply. Loosen your muscles and think about relaxation. Perhaps you can visualize a place that makes you relaxed (a stream, a large group of fluffy clouds, a cup of yummy cocoa, a rocking jar on a porch on a warm breezy day). Many stress relief techniques are useful (and important to your health). Check back at this site often for additional caregiving stress relief techniques.

 

 

 

December 22nd

 

Recent studies have confirmed that looking at art (paintings and sculpture) is very effective at relieving stress. Now, we don’t all have a museum at close distance to dash off to on a daily basis. Luckily, the studies revealed that even art photos in a book help with stress levels. Bottom line is it sure seems like it is worth a try for any caregiver. Being a caregiver is among the most stressful activities in our society, so finding stress relief pursuits should always be a top priority for every caregiver.

 

 

 

December 23rd

 

 

A tough task for the professional caregiver (those working for an agency) is dealing with the family of the Alzheimer’s patient they are caring for. Often family members are in full or partial denial that their loved one has dementia. Often they will verbally acknowledge they understand the disease, but often their actions reveal a different attitude. Counseling and therapy would be beneficial for the family members in denial, but getting them to that care is virtually impossible for the “hired” caregiver (as the employee would risk losing their job by confronting these strong emotions the family member may be experiencing). So, what can the caregiver do? Consult with the management of the company you work for. They may have options that will benefit not only the family member in denial, but for you and your Alzheimer’s patient. But there are times little can be done, as the family’s way of dealing with the whole situation will only reveal itself in anger. This is one area that only time and outside sources may be able to help. One outside resource that could be very beneficial is the Alzheimer’s Association, as they have trained staff just for this type of situation.

 

 

 

December 24th

 

Holidays are often a source of much further confusion for the Alzheimer’s sufferer. As a caregiver you must re-direct you personal feelings for the holiday season and try and remember that your Alzheimer’s patient is usually unable to celebrate the season as the rest of society does. That doesn’t mean some celebrations can’t still be enjoyed. Just try to approach things in smaller doses, with less noise, less distractions then a full-blown celebration.

 

 

 

December 25th

 

Caregiving on a holiday can seem like you are truly alone in your task. While others are off with family and friends enjoying the holiday, you have a day of caregiving that may present the same difficulties every other day of caregiving does. And the truth is you are right. And it may not seem fair. But there are many others doing what you are. A shared brother and sisterhood of human beings who are performing a truly important task. And most importantly, there is no reason you can’t celebrate too with you Alzheimer’s patient. Just take things slow. Slightly change a few of the routines to make them festive, and try to make the day a special day, a holiday.

 

 

 

December 26th

 

 

Exercise is always a key element for all human beings. Often with those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease the thought of getting them to exercise may seem not worth the effort. But you may be surprised. Of course you have to first evaluate what their physical condition is, and what level of exercise they can do. But any movement is beneficial on so very many levels. In winter time many exercise routines should be kept indoors. But, even a simple rhythmic pillow squeeze can be beneficial (and fun).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 27th

 

 

Does there come a time when every Alzheimer’s patient should go into a nursing home? The answer of course depends on many factors. But virtually every recent study shows that home health care should always be the first consideration. With proven modern techniques in interaction techniques for caregivers working with Alzheimer’s patients, there is no reason an Alzheimer’s patient should have to go to an Alzheimer’s unit or memory care unit unless the patient can not function in the home environment. There may be other medical conditions that the Alzheimer’s patient has that require skilled nursing care. But if there are no further medical conditions that are involved in the decision, the best place for the Alzheimer’s patient will most often (but not always) be in a residential home environment.

 

If family caregivers need a break (respite care), there are many fine agencies with Alzheimer’s trained caregivers who can help. If the family caregiver feels they no longer can take care of their loved one with Alzheimer’s, they can either hire in-home professional caregivers, or send their loved one to a facility. But be very aware that the vast majority of nursing home facilities will do little care for your loved one beyond providing them with the basics of food, medicine, and shelter. While there are some good Alzheimer’s and memory care facilities in the United States, few can even come close to care that can be offered in a home environment by family or professional caregivers. Also remember, if short term medical rehab or other skilled nursing is needed, there are many companies with highly skilled nurses who can come to your home and perform the medical needs required. These skilled nursing options are usually covered by Medicare and can help keep the Alzheimer’s patient home instead of having to go into a nursing home.

 

 

 

December 28th

 

 

Pets can be a source of positive interaction for the Alzheimer’s patient. Start slowly. If there are already pets in the home, have the pets take a more active role with the Alzheimer’s patient when appropriate. Pet therapy is a well-known and well-utilized therapy for most medical conditions. And while there are few extensive studies for pet therapy with Alzheimer’s patients, the family or professional caregiver can try to integrate the pet or pets into the daily routine of the Alzheimer’s patient and make their own logical common sense judgments to see if the pets are helping.

 

 

 

 

December 29th

 

 

Going to a movie at the movie theater can be a wonderful stress relief technique for the Alzheimer’s caregiver. Find some time when another family member can care for your Alzheimer’s patient for a few hours and get away (or hire a professional caregiver for regularly scheduled times of respite care for you).

 

 The environment of a theater is perfect for totally displacing your caregiving stress issues. Yes, it is only a temporary fix. But the more stress relief techniques you incorporate into you life, the better caregiver you will be. And the healthier you will be. Check back here often for more caregiver stress relief tips, information and techniques.

 

 

 

 

December 30th

 

 

I big source of frustration for the caregiver is dealing with the repetitive nature of caregiving for an Alzheimer’s patient. You are only human and even though you may care deeply for your patient, it can be maddening to have to repeat the same activities, the same information, day after day after day. The tip today to combat this very difficult situation is to keep reminding yourself of the dignity your Alzheimer’s patient deserves. That you are performing a call to duty activity  (whether you are a family member, friend or professional caregiver). Yes, you are providing vital care for someone in need. And with today’s modern and proven methods in interaction techniques with Alzheimers patients, you should always try to remember how truly important the care you are providing is.

 

 

 

 

December 31st

 

 

Time is very much an element that is often on the mind of the family caregiver. The caregiver will often mentally flashback to the time when their loved one, who now has Alzheimer’s disease, had full mental abilities. The key is to not let the sadness of what they can no longer communicate tarnish the memory of what they once were. Cherish the memories. Be careful though not to live in the past. Life moves forward. Cherish what those memories are. How they shaped you. Don’t turn positive memories into current sadness. Try to remember a particular past memory that will bring a smile to your face, close your eyes and hold that feeling for as long as you can. Then take a deep breath, open your eyes and realize what an important role you are playing in the cycle of life. A cycle that doesn’t always seem fair, but that is what life is, a cycle of hills and valleys. Treasure the triumphs that helped you climb the hills, and venture to look forward through the valley to the crest of the next hill.