The dread of failure is every caregiver’s nightmare. Try to relax and observe your loved one close. Learn as much as possible day-to-day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, every living with dementia responds differently in most instances.
The original personality will never totally vanish. If your spouse, father, or mother were jokesters, you better stay on your toes! They might be planning their next caper after many years into their disease. Enjoy these moments and remind yourself hour by hour that your loved one has no concept of time.
Again, learn from these people. One of the reasons why I get so aggravated with some from the medical profession is that the vast majority of doctors and nurses refuse to listen to caregivers or patients truly. Consider yourself the foreman. Obviously, there are many reasons that you must accompany them to that doctor’s appointment. Memory-impaired patients may not be able to answer for themselves.
Many will categorize a person with Alzheimer’s as mentally encumbered. Well, my father struggled with the disease for twelve years and maintained his sense of humor almost to the end, regardless of all the depression that the culprit of a disease rained down upon him. Except for an earlier stage when the frustration became overwhelming, his personality always remained his own.
You will definitely witness some mood swings. Each situation may be unique. One woman told me that the worst part of her day was usually the first part of the morning when caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s. Myself, I had more hardships with my father during the evenings when he would experience Sundowner’s, otherwise known as Sundown Syndrome.
There is an abundance of theories about what sets off these shifting behaviors. Among them can even be physical discomfort or poor environmental conditions. Whatever the cause, once again, I believe that keeping to a daily routine is the best preventive measure. Limit as many distractions as possible and speak slowly in a soft, calming tone. If they begin to become agitated, try shifting their focus to a fresh and relaxing activity such as listening to quiet music, taking a walk together, watching the sunset, etc.
If combativeness is involved, take a step back and draw in a few deep breaths. This will help you release any adrenalin building in your system so you may remain calm. If both of you become worked up, this is a battle no one will ever win.
Once you have yourself in the right state of mind, provide reassurance that they are safe. Promise that you will stay by their side until everything is better and ensure them that this is exactly where they need to be.
Take away any unnecessary chatter; ask whoever is in the room to leave until the situation is resolved.
If these plights start becoming more frequent, talk to a physician. There are several medications which help control anxiety. I don’t want any of these folks overmedicated. But this is a situation that needs to be addressed.
Learn to be aware of the warning signs. Watch for restlessness, fidgeting or pacing. This may be a good time to ask if they would enjoy going for a walk. Search for any safe outlet that will release the escalating energy. Things like asking if they would like to help you with the dishes will keep their hands and minds occupied and possibly assist you in avoiding any emotional explosions.
Remember . . . never, ever argue with them. It is not only pointless but will only cause to provoke your loved one further.