Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for children, teens, children even adults to understand. There will be times you grandma doesn’t seem like she used to. Or without warning she may get confused, agitated or even angry to the point of accusing you of stealing. And it may happen when you are out in public, at church, the grocery store, or at a family gathering. Even though you know Alzheimer’s is the cause, it is common to be embarrassed about it.
While you can’t stop behavior changes due to Alzheimer’s, there are tips to help you better manage the situation.
Think About It From Their Perspective
Alzheimer’s progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages many people living with the disease do recognize something is wrong. They may know they are supposed to recognize you, but they can’t. Imagine how frustrating and scary that would be.
It is important to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you might react if your world suddenly didn’t make sense or you were in a position where you realized you should know someone – even a close family member – but just couldn’t remember who they were or what they meant to you.
Adjust Social Routines
Everyone needs social interaction, even those living with memory loss. But as the disease progresses unfamiliar places and social interactions can become scary and more become difficult to manage.
Consider hosting the monthly family dinner at your house, or the home of a close friend instead of meeting at a new restaurant. Consider a familiar locale for the family vacation and stick to visiting favorite landmarks and attractions.
While each day is different, through many stages of Alzheimer’s it is likely your loved one will feel more comforted and peaceful with the familiar vs. something new that might trigger fear or agitation.
Have A Sense Of Humor
While Alzheimer’s and dementia are serious, as a family member of friend keeping a sense of humor makes a big difference. Let’s face it, there are times you just have to find humor in the situation. It can lighten the mood not only for yourself, but also for your family and your loved one suffering from memory loss.
And don’t forget is human nature to pick up on the emotions of others around you and this is no different for those living with memory loss. Getting embarrassed or anxious when grandma says the wrong thing can even make the situation worse as she picks up on your rising level of anxiety.
Sometimes it is just best to whisper a quiet apology, laugh and move on.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory. If someone can’t remember, recalls something differently, or is convinced the neighbor stole their favorite pen, don’t spend time arguing or trying to convince them otherwise. Even if they end up agreeing with you today it is no guarantee they will remember it tomorrow. Instead try reassuring them or even asking questions about the memory they are recalling.