Dealing with Memory Loss in Delray Beach
Are you responsible for the care of a loved one or family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia? ElderCare at home has put together some great tips for dealing with memory loss in Delray Beach, and the entire Palm Beach County area.
You may find it harder to interact with your loved one dealing with memory loss. People with Alzheimer’s and dementia in Delray Beach may have problems with anger issues as a result. Anything you can do to present them with a regular routine is key to keeping them calm, serene and unagitated.
Top 7 Tips for Interacting with People with Memory Loss
1. Get Organized
Get organized by storing things in the same place. If the person with memory loss has trouble finding their shoes, coat, purse, and other everyday items, it might be because there’s no specific place to store them.
Make a list of items that tend to get lost and decide where to keep them. Once you decide where you are going to put items, keep them in the same place. For example, try to keep shoes by the front door, store eyeglasses on the bedroom dresser when not in use and place keys in a basket by the door.
2. Same Routine and Same Time
Get in the habit of doing regular activities at the same place at the same time each day. Plan a routine and stick to it. For instance, get up and get out of bed the same time each morning. Brush and floss your teeth at the same times every day. Set a specific time to take your medicine each day.
Try to set aside a particular day each week for special tasks, like shopping for food on Thursdays. These tips can all be implemented by anyone caring for someone with memory loss.
3. Practice Patience
The energy you put out, whether positive or negative, gets reflected in the personality of the memory loss patient. If you are agitated, your elderly father, mother, or other family member will be agitated. If you act in a calm and positive way, the dementia patient will be put at ease and is less likely to become agitated. A smile and reassuring hug can go a long way towards maintaining peace and harmony.
4. Visual Clues
Do you remember using flash cards when you were in school? They were a wonderful visual aid to help you remember math facts or for spelling help. You can use visual clues throughout the house to help a person with memory loss. Add a picture of dishes on the door of a kitchen cabinet, attach a photo of a favorite lunch to the refrigerator.
These visual aids may help the person remember where to find a dish or where you keep their favorite snack food. It may take time for the caregiver to make these changes, such as applying picture labels, but more time and effort will be saved over the long run.
5. Thanks for the Memories
Use old photographs and favorite songs to help people with severe memory problems remember events that happened long ago. Family heirlooms, a favorite flower, a favorite perfume or cologne and old photos or songs from their teen years may be comforting to them. Keep these memories and mementos handy to help remind them of fun times and friends.
These keepsakes can help calm down a restless or angry person as they become caught up in the happy mood of the memento and they may stay in a positive mood for a while. If an old memento happens to create sadness or anger, distract the person immediately with a new activity. Go to a different room, get a drink of juice, or go for a walk indoors or outdoors.
6. Limit Choices
The fewest number of items should be kept available; extras can be put away or stored. For example, a kitchen drawer should hold a few spoons and forks. The extra utensils should be stored and unavailable. In the clothes closet there could be two pairs of shoes, two shirts, and a pair of pants. It’s best if extra clothes are kept in a separate, locked closet.
Whenever possible, the caregiver should honor the preferences of the person with the memory disorder. The person has the right to choose. It helps to use “Do you want” type of questions that they can answer yes or no to. For example: “Do you want to wear the black shoes?” Or “Do you want to wear the brown shoes?”
7. Show Them How
Help them remember how to do activities they once participated in. People with declarative or fact memory problems may have good procedural memory and are able to remember how to do things. Instead of telling a person with memory loss what to do, show them how to do something and have them practice.
For example, after they practice unrolling the garden hose, watering the plants, and re-winding the garden hose a few times, they may remember how to water the garden. Keeping busy helps a person with dementia to feel useful and it provides exercise. During these activities, the caregiver has time for other responsibilities.
Contact ElderCare at Home for Help
If you need Alzheimer’s help in Delray Beach, contact ElderCare at Home. We will refer you to qualified referrals to private duty home caregivers. To learn how ElderCare at Home can help you, call us at 1-888-285-0093.
6 Ways to Respond to Aggression in Dementia
Aggressive behaviors may be verbal and consist of shouting or name-calling, or they can be physical, such as hitting or pushing. These behaviors can occur suddenly, with no apparent reason, or can result from a frustrating situation. Whatever the case, it’s important to try to understand what is causing your loved one to become angry or upset. Here are 6 ways that can help you better respond to aggression:
- Try to identify the immediate cause. Think about what happened right before the reaction that triggered the unwanted behavior.
- Focus on feelings, not facts. Rather than focusing on specific details, consider the person’s emotions. Look for the feelings behind the words.
- Don’t get upset. Be positive and reassuring. Speak slowly in a soft tone of voice.
- Limit distractions. Examine the person’s surroundings, and adapt them to avoid other similar situations.
- Try a relaxing activity. Use music, massage or exercise to help sooth the person.
- Shift the focus to another activity. The immediate situation or activity may have unintentionally caused the aggressive response. Try something different.
It can hurt – physically and emotionally
It’s upsetting when someone you love lashes-out at you or actually causes you harm. It hurts physically and emotionally. Although these tips are designed to give you some suggestions, we appreciate and understand just how hard it is to see someone you care about become so angry that they take it out on you. Keep in mind that the person before you is the same person you fell in love with. They are angry, lost, confused and scared. They are frustrated and likely to be unable to express themselves. Whenever there is a change in behavior, it’s important to follow-up with your loved ones physician as soon as possible. For more information on how to manage difficult behaviors in the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, reach out to the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center. Their 24 hour Caregiver Help Line can be reached at 855-476-75600, or visit their website at www.alzheimerscareresourcecenter.org
Helpful Hints for Interacting with People with Memory Loss
It is important to understand the different types of memory storage because a person with severe or progressive memory loss may have one kind of memory loss and not another. For example, people with brain damage on their left side (the left hemisphere holds verbal or word memory) may not be able to remember a shopping list. Or they may not be able to remember the words in a conversation. However, they may be able to use their visual skills (the right hemisphere stores nonverbal memories). For example, they may remember the faces of people they meet at the store.
A person with a great deal of damage on the right side of the brain may not be able to remember and follow directions to a friend’s house but may be able to remember conversations.
1. Organize – Keep items that are alike in the same place. For example, keep all keys on one ring.
2. The Same Place – Make a list of items that tend to get lost and decide where to keep them. Once you decide where you are going to put items, keep them in the same place. Keep shoes by the side door or in the bed-room closet. Wear your eyeglasses or keep them on your bureau top. If you can afford a second pair of eyeglasses, keep one pair for home use and the other pair in your purse or jacket for outside activities.
3. The Same Time – Do a particular activity at the same time each day. For example, awaken and get out of bed the same time each morning. Brush or clean your teeth at the same times each day. Take your medicine at the same time each day. Try to set aside a particular day each week for special tasks, like shopping for food on Thursdays.
4. Remove Clutter – Give or throwaway odds and ends, extra end tables, many knickknacks, piles of old newspapers, broken tools, worn out shoes, pencil stubs, and anything unusable or not in current use. If you have not used it or worn it within the past year, get rid of it. Have a garage sale!
5. Concrete Cues – If somebody has problems with word memory, use concrete cues, such as visual helps, on a regular basis. A visual help, such as a picture of dishes on the door of a kitchen cabinet, may help the person remember where to find a dish. It may take time for the caregiver to make these changes, such as applying picture labels, but more time and effort will be saved over the long run.
6. Other visual helps include showing or pointing. For example, point to the object or the destination, such as going to the front room window and pointing outdoors to the newspaper or mailbox. Another way of cuing is to accompany the person with memory loss to the actual place and point out landmarks to remember along the way.
7. Show Them and Have Them Practice – People with declarative or fact memory problems may have good procedural (how to) memory. Instead of telling a person with memory loss what to do, show them how to do something and have them practice. For example, after they practice unrolling the garden hose, watering the plants, and rewinding the garden hose a few times, they may remember how to water the garden. Keeping busy helps a person with dementia to feel useful and it provides exercise. During these activities, the caregiver has time for other responsibilities.
Hellful Hints for People with Severe or Progressive Memory
Even though there are no medical treatments for curing severe memory impairments, changing the way things are done at home can help. People with memory problems do best when they have a lot of hints or reminders to help them figure things out. Saying you are “making sandwiches for lunch time” tells them what meal is coming next. Also, telling time in terms of purpose-such as lunch time, bath time, or bedtime-may have more meaning than using numbers, such as one o’clock.
People with severe memory disorders do not function as well when there are many changes and surprises. Often they get upset when there are changes in their usual routine. Caregivers should under-stand this and see that the routine changes as little as possible from day to day.
1. Reminders Help – Talk frequently about important information, such as the next thing to be done or events that are coming up. It is best to talk casually about these things in the natural flow of conversation. Try not to make the person feel foolish as if they cannot remember. Reminding them in any way of their poor memory will probably upset them.
2. Keep Clocks and Calendars Handy – Leaving the curtains open during the day will help them keep track of the day-night cycle of time. At the end of each day, cross the day off the calendar so that in the morning, the new day is clear.
3. Use Old Photographs and Songs – People with severe memory problems usually remember events that happened long ago. Family heirlooms, old photos or old songs from their teen years may be comforting to them and should be kept handy. Sometimes these mementos remind them of fun times and friends. These memories can calm down a restless or angry person. The person becomes caught up in the happy mood of the memento and stays that way for a while. When an old photo or song creates sadness or anger, distract the person immediately with a new activity-go to a different room, get a drink of juice, or go for a walk (indoors or outdoors).
4. Limit Choices – The fewest number of items should be kept available; extras should be put away or stored. For example, a kitchen drawer should hold a few spoons and forks. The extra utensils should be stored and unavailable. In the clothes closet there could be two pairs of shoes, two shirts, and a pair of pants. Extra clothes should be kept in a separate, locked closet.
5. Choices could be limited to one item. As much as possible, the caregiver should honor the preferences of the person with the memory disorder. The person has the right to choose. It helps to use “Do you want” questions.
“Do yo want to wear the black shoes?”
“Do you want to wear the brown shoes?”
6. Night Lights – People with severe memory problems often have trouble at night. A night light may help them know where they are if they wake up to use the bathroom. A night light may also keep them from tripping over the edges of furniture and falling.
7. Changes in Sense Systems – People with severe memory problems have trouble when their sense systems change they cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or feel as well as before. When not tuned in to the sights, smells, sounds, etc. around them, people become information-deprived and may suffer in physical or emotional health. Caregivers should make sure that people who need eyeglasses or hearing aids use them. Extra flavoring or seasoning may help food taste better. Taking time to feel the chair may help them to sit safely. Appropriate touching and hugs can satisfy skin hunger, the need all people have for contact or touch from another individual.
8. Show Them How – As discussed before, a person with memory prob-lems may have a strong procedural (how to) memory even when the declarative (fact) memory is very weak. Instead of telling a person with memory loss what to do, show them how to do something and have them practice. Many people with severe memory problems cannot remember the facts of where and when something happened (declarative memory), such as where and when they bought a shirt. At the same time, they may remember how to put on the shirt (procedural memory). Thus, people with progressive memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease may be able to learn new skills by practicing in small steps how something is done. It may take them a few weeks to learn a new skill that someone else may be able to pick up in a few minutes. The sense of pride, of feeling capable, a bit self-sufficient and independent, is worth the effort.
9. Routine Versus Change – Specific routines should be set as often as possible. The same activities done the same way every day, such as dressing before breakfast or watering plants before lunch, are easier for people with memory loss to understand and follow. If there is a change in plans, such as a visit to the doctor or a vacation, it is important to tell and repeat the information before the event. A positive, pleasant style of approach with a smile should help. During such changes other parts of the daily routine, such as mealtimes or taking a walk, should stay at the same time to provide some stability.
source: Helping People with Progressive Memory Disorders: A Guide For You And Your Family, 2nd ed.
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