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How to cope as a family with Alzheimer’s

Living with a family member who has Alzheimer’s can be difficult, trying and upsetting. During the early stages of the disease, you may sometimes forget that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. There may be days when they are just like they were before, and other days that are more difficult. Unfortunately, it is a progressive illness. However, there are a number of ways you can alleviate stress caused by the illness:

1 – Try not to get frustrated

No matter how annoyed or upset you may be by the behaviour of your love one with Alzheimer’s, try not to react negatively. If they are frustrated at their inability to do something and take it out on you, remember – this is more frightening for them than it is for you. Imagine losing your sense of identity; it makes sense they may be angry and frustrated. Try to remember that what you are feeling is intensified for them, and their frustration stems from inside themselves.

2 – Cherish the good moments

Coping with a family member who has Alzheimer’s can be difficult, there is no denying that. It’s not all bad though, and it’s the good moments that you need to cherish the most. Was your relative lucid for a few minutes? Did they remember who you are? Who they are? Did they smile or crack a joke? All these things are more important to focus on than the bad – although it may be difficult. Focus on the smiles and the jokes, the small victories. Don’t let the difficulties overshadow the positives.

3 – Be mindful of their limits

As the simplest of tasks start to become challenges, modify both your behaviour and expectations accordingly. Don’t ask overly complex questions, give difficult multi-step directions, or push the individual to engage in stressful social situations. What they may have been able to do or comprehend in the past might have now changed, and it’s important to be mindful of this.

4 – Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; no one will think less of you for it. The people who care about you will want to support you as you deal with the ups and downs of Alzheimer’s caregiving. If you need to talk, call a friend and just chat. If you need help navigating the emotional and medical needs of your loved one who has Alzheimer’s, ask for help or more information. The problem many of us face is that we are too proud and think we can do everything. The reality is that many of us are trying to juggle careers, relationships and the care of our elderly relative. It’s a huge task and it makes sense that you need help. All you have to do is ask.

There are, of course, so many things you could do to cope with someone who has Alzheimer’s. There is no one thing that will work for everyone, as each situation is different. These are just three ways that we think will help you as you navigate life with a relative with Alzheimer’s. Just remember: you’re not alone and people will help.

At Comfort Keepers, we help ease the burden on families with Alzheimer’s by providing services such as respite care, personal care assistance and intellectual activities

If you would like to learn more about the care and support that we can provide, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 1850 818 100 or email us via our Contact Us page. To read more about Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, click here

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