November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. With the holiday season in full swing, families are spending more time with relatives they may only see once or twice a year. November is the perfect time to learn more about the symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s disease and how it can affect the elderly members of your family during large holiday gatherings. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s go through changes that could create uncertainty in family members who may not know how to interact with them. Becoming more insightful and sharing information on this disease can help improve understanding and create a more inviting atmosphere for those involved.
Familiarizing your family with your elderly loved one’s current cognitive state can go a long way in making them more comfortable and the gathering more enjoyable for the entire family.
In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, those afflicted are aware that they are suffering from memory loss. He or she may seem normal but internally they are struggling to keep up with simple conversations. Follow these simple guidelines to when interacting with individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
1. Avoid interrupting your loved one when they are speaking. They may tell the same stories or repeat the same sentences and it can be tempting to tell them so but we encourage you to let the conversation finish. It can be disheartening for seniors to realize they are being repetitive and it can discourage them from participating in further conversation.
2. If your loved one fails to remember who you are or what your name is, kindly introduce yourself by your relationship. For example, “Hello, I am your daughter’s son.” Refrain from comments like this one, “I’m your grandson, don’t you remember me?” Do not take their lapse as an insult, it is not personal.
3. Recognize that large family gatherings can cause your loved one to become anxious or confused. Try to keep conversations with them one-on-one. Even small groups of three or four people can become too complicated for them.
4. Patience really is a virtue when talking to a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Trying to complete their sentences for them can do more harm than good. Instead, try asking them a simple question that might help them remember what they were saying or doing. Ask them short, simple questions that are to the point. Asking open-ended questions can lead to more frustration.
5. Alzheimer’s can create unpredictable behavior in those who suffer from the disease. They get upset for no apparent reason or become angry and lash out at others unexpectedly. If your loved one does act out you should quietly and respectfully direct them to a quiet place where the two of you can converse in peace or focus on something more positive.
6. If your loved one suffers from increased difficulties toward the end of the day make sure their involvement in family gatherings has ended by then. A familiar, comforting environment will help them rest and remain calm throughout the night.
It can become difficult to follow these guidelines and often times home care assistance can help. Home care providers understand how important it is for your loved one to feel comfort and familiarity. They can help you and your family learn how to interact with your loved ones who are suffering from Alzheimer’s as well as helping those loved ones avoid emotional trauma during family gatherings.