Don’t Be in Denial: When a loved one shows signs of dementia it’s common for their friends and loved ones to be in denial. It’s easy to ignore the symptoms, make excuses for the person, and push the symptoms to the back of your mind. The problem with denial is it doesn’t lead you to take your loved one to a primary care physician or neurologist for a complete workup. Sometimes dementia is caused by health issues other than Alzheimer’s. Some of those problems can be treated or even reversed.
Don’t Ask “Do You Remember?” Asking a person with Alzheimer’s if they remember something is a common mistake. They have probably forgotten the event in question. That’s what people with Alzheimer’s do. They forget. So it’s better to say, “I remember when . . . ” and then tell them a story.
Don’t Argue With or Contradict the Person: If you’re caring for someone with dementia it’s so easy to contradict or argue with them when they say things that are total nonsense. And they typically say a lot of things that fall into this category. But it’s much better to agree with them and then change the subject. This can prevent a nasty argument.
Don’t Delay Nursing Home Placement When It’s Clearly Needed: At some point it may (but not always) become evident that you can no longer care for the person at home. Mid- to late-stage patients need nursing staff and aides 24 hours a day and a physician on call at all times. They also need a dietician, a cook, a housekeeper, an activity director and many more professionals. And they need to have people around them to provide social stimulation. Sometimes placing the person in a reputable institution is indeed the most loving choice for the patient.
Don’t Stop Visiting When Your Loved One No Longer Recognizes You: Many people think that there’s no reason to visit a loved one who no longer recognizes them, but I am firmly convinced that you should visit anyway. First of all the person may enjoy being visited even if he or she doesn’t quite know who is visiting them. More importantly, it’s possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn’t able to say so.
Do any of you have suggestions of other things an Alzheimer’s caregiver should never do?