If you are a caregiver or have a close friend or family member who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), you may be aware of some of the challenges of maintaining ongoing positive relationships in the midst of a serious illness such as AD. Here are some tips from other caregivers and family members who have been in your shoes:
Be a Good Listener
One of the challenges of any close relationship is to listen more than you need to be heard. This principal of good communication rings particularly true in any relationship with a loved one with AD. For most of us listening skills need to be practiced, they don’t come automatically. Caring for a loved one with AD provides ample opportunity to show your love and support by simply being quiet and listening.
Offer Frequent Reassurance
Those diagnosed with AD (and their closest friends and family members) will usually go through some type of grieving process as they except the enormity of this life changing illness. It’s important to offer support and allowing those who are affected to go through the grieving process, taking as much time as needed to come to acceptance of the disease. Offer frequent support and reassurance while anticipating that there will be periods of anger, grief and denial along the way. This also applies to allowing yourself to grieve the loss of your loved one’s prior state of health as well.
Learn all you can About the AD
Adopting the mindset of early education about the disease will help caregivers and loved ones be prepared for the challenges of each of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the symptoms of the disease and learning about what you can expect and how you might react to those symptoms can help you to better navigate these uncharted waters. Early education about AD will also help the person diagnosed with the illness. The more you know, the better you can address each stage of the illness and implement preventative care-staving off unnecessary consequences like preventing falls and learning what side effects to observe for from AD medications. CLICK HERE to join our online education program for caregivers of AD.
Stay Optimistic but be Realistic
There is not enough to be said about keeping a positive attitude when it comes to spending time with your loved one with AD. At the same time, don’t over estimate your loved one’s abilities as he/she progresses through the stages of the disease. Just because he/she has always been able to proficiently handle the finances or manage the household chores, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Keep an open mind, and an observant eye for changes that require the next level of care and adjust your expectations accordingly.