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Caring For Alzheimer’s Sufferers: Focus On Maintaining Their Dignity

Alzheimer’s disease involves the gradual destruction of brain cells and this eventually results in sufferers losing their memory and thinking ability. Being a progressive

English: Combination of two brain diagrams in ...

English: Combination of two brain diagrams in one for comparison. In the left normal brain, in the right brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. Diagram of a normal brain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

disease, the patients will experience personality changes and will do less and less as it progresses. In the final stages of the disease, the victims are helpless, usually bedridden and cannot even feed or speak. As you can imagine, it is a challenge to take care of these patients especially for close family members.

Though the victims do not experience any physical pain at the onset, the disease can cause a great deal of emotional pain to their loved ones considering that the victims eventually fail to even recognize even their loved ones. Alzheimer’s care thus deserves the caregivers to have patience and empathy for the sufferers.

Alzheimer’s care for the sufferer’s should be geared to maintaining the sufferer’s dignity. According the book ‘Alzheimer’s – Caring for Your Loved One. Caring for Yourself’, the author Sharon Fish gives very practical ways of assisting those who are affected. She says, “Find easy things to do together that are meaningful and productive.” This could be anything such as washing utensils, cooking a meal, sweeping the floor etc. This ensures that their self-esteem is preserved by doing the things that they are still able to do since the loss of their abilities is gradual. Make the sufferer feel useful and let him or her get the satisfaction out of life by doing what they are able to do. Alzheimer’s care demands that the caregiver offer constant reassurance and commendation. Help them feel that they are doing alright and this will usually give them relief and an inner satisfaction.

When handling embarrassing situations caused by the sufferer, do not berate the sufferer by all means, especially in public. Remember that the sufferer is not deliberately aggravating. In fact, by remaining calm and firm it will make them more cooperative. By all means do not let such embarrassing situations get in the way of your relationship with the sufferer. Alzheimer’s care also means that a sufferer will say things that are incorrect. They may hallucinate and see things that are only in their minds.

How should you handle such a situation? Usually, it is best not to keep correcting the sufferer as this may result in him or her getting depressed or getting aggressive. Remember that they had known independence before the disease progressed and constant correction will only exasperate them. Alzheimer’s care is challenging but nevertheless appreciated by both the sufferer as well as their loved ones.

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