Common Behaviors of Alzheimer’s Disease and Ideas on How to Deal with Them
Last week I was happy to participate in my first Dementia Conference sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. It took place in King of Prussia, PA and was well attended by caregivers, professionals and vendors. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn and share among so many different people.
I wanted to share some of the most common behaviors of those affected by Alzheimer’s and suggestions of what you can do to deal with those behaviors.
- Provide tasks that are repetitive and purposeful (e.g. folding towels; sorting a rummage box containing pictures or other safe items from a hobby they used to enjoy, a purse, etc.)
- Notify the police and neighbors of your loved one’s condition so they can be a second set of eyes
- Did you know a person not found in 24 hours could result in a fatality - register your loved one with Safe Return®
- Disguise doors in your house with window treatments or put door locks above or below reach
- Routine is important so avoid large interruptions to routine as it can cause added stress
- This can be irritating but keep your wits about you as your agitation can increase the stress of your loved one
- Saying “I already answered that” doesn’t help as they don’t remember that they asked you
- Be reassuring
- Practice the rule of 3’s – answer once for them, answer once for you and then divert them to another task
- Since this commonly occurs between 4pm-7pm, it’s thought this might stem back from people getting ready to do something from their old life such as going home from work or getting dinner ready for the family
- Allow your loved one to help prepare dinner – it could be as simple as setting the table, making a salad, etc.
- If they worked, give them a something to do related to their job (e.g. an accountant could have a calculator or adding machine, stack of receipts, briefcase, etc.; a handyman could have a set of plastic tools to organize on a board)
- It’s kind of scary and strange when someone else sees or hears something that you don’t but you have to remember that for the person with Alzheimer’s, what they are seeing and hearing is very real to them and you telling them that it doesn’t exist won’t help.
- Be a part of their world and validate what they are seeing or hearing – is it going to hurt anything? Probably not!
- Reassure your loved one that it’s ok – they may be concerned as well
I hope you found this info helpful if you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind that something you try one day may not work the next day so be flexible. We welcome any tips and tricks that might have worked for you and your loved one.
For more information on Alzheimer's care see our other articles:
Recommended Reading for books on Alzheimer's care