For most people, the beginning of November marks the start of the holiday season. For the West Georgia community, it can also mean that the leaves are changing, the temperatures are starting to dip, and fall has officially made its arrival. At Keyline Home Care, we know that November also brings Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. With family gatherings making their way to center stage, having a loved one with Alzheimer’s in any stage can pose new challenges to both caregivers and patients. One easy way to make your family’s gathering run a little smoother is to give family members a few tips on how best to communicate with your loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s. At Keyline, our Keygivers are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of our top 5 tips to help you and your family navigate this holiday season.
1. Communicate successfully. Your loved one might be confused and struggle to keep up with family conversation. In the early stages of the disease, they are often aware this difficulty and might feel self-conscious about it. If possible, do not correct them even if you find that they are repeating themselves. Do not draw attention, especially in front of a crowd, to the fact that the topic has already been discussed. Try to let them finish their thoughts and avoid interrupting them.
2. Set the pace. Allow your loved one to go at their own pace and watch for signs that they may be getting tired. While visiting family is an important part of mental and emotional health, becoming overly tired could pose problems for their sleep schedule. Patients with Alzheimer’s often experience a phenomenon known as “sundowning” which causes them to become confused in the early evening hours. Overstimulation too late in the day along with a departure from their normal routine could make this worse. Stick to their schedule as best as you can. Make sure you have a clear exit strategy so that you and your loved one can make a swift exit should the need arise.
3. Practice patience. Your loved one could become agitated and lash out at those around them. Patients with Alzheimer’s can often exhibit unpredictable behaviors that are out of their normal demeanor or temperament. Be patient. Their “new normal” can be both intimidating and frustrating for them.
4. Discreetly help. Make dinner time easier by keeping things simple. If your loved one prefers a supplemental shake in place of what everyone is having, make sure you have that on hand. If your loved one would like to eat what is being served, be cognizant of their limitations and serve them accordingly without calling attention to them. Bowls are usually easier than plates, and the fewer distractions on the table the better.