If you know someone with Alzheimer’s what steps can you take to help them?
“Spreading awareness about what you can do to help relatives or friends with Alzheimer’s counters the stigma around it and benefits everyone,” says Sally Graham, founder and Managing Director of Avant Homecare, which offers home care services in the local community.
Avant is marking 2020 World Alzheimer’s month (this September) by offering tips to informal carers who look after loved ones about techniques that could make providing care easier.
Sally says: “Most informal carers are proud and happy to care for a loved one, such as an aged relative or someone with a disability, but it can be a tough task sometimes. Research for Alzheimer’s International shows that over 50% of carers globally say their health has suffered as a result of caring responsibilities, even though they express positive sentiments about their role.
“As professional care providers we provide regularly-updated Alzheimer’s training to our professional care staff and we are happy to share some tips,” says Sally.
Karen Hampshire, a Field Based Manager with Avant Homecare, explains some useful techniques.
- Go with their flow of thoughts rather than ordering them to do things or arguing with them.
Karen says: “Sometimes an essential task must be done, but they are talking about something else. Don’t say: ‘Come on, we are going to have a wash now.’ Instead, go along with their conversation but gently guide them towards the task.
“We have one customer who loves singing and dancing, so we sing and dance our way to the bathroom together.”
Sometimes they may not want to eat, but instead of forcing the issue, Karen recommends: “Talk to them instead, and often they will just eat their meal without thinking about it.”
- Calm communication goes a long way to defusing potential conflict.
“Anger and forgetfulness can result in challenging behaviour, but if you stay calm and repeat what you want, it helps keep them calm too,” says Karen.
- Be respectful.
“Some people assume that people with Alzheimer’s remember nothing – but in fact they often have a good long-term memory. They will remember all the words to a 20-year-old song, even though they cannot recall what happened yesterday.”
For help and advice about caring for someone with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s or anything else, or if want to join Avant in combatting the stigma of Alzheimer’s, find out more here.