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Dr. Ruth's Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver: How to Care for Your Loved One Without Getting Overwhelmed... and Without Doing It All Yourself

Dr. Ruth's Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver: How to Care for Your Loved One Without Getting Overwhelmed... and Without Doing It All Yourself - Ruth K Westheimer I'd liked her practical, no-nonsense tone. But she admits that she is not an expert in this area and while overall I thought she did some good writing the book, I didn't agree with some of her suggestions. "understand that you will be disappointed from time to time. If you're at your very limits in terms of physical and psychological energy, such disappointments can be very hard on you. It's OK to feel sad and upset for a short time if someone disappoints you, but then I want you to put any such bad experiences aside and concentrate on all the good in your life." p. 13The importance of laughter for you and the person with Alzheimer's. Seek out ways to make him laugh. Feeling tired. "The only way to refresh your mind and body when you are a caregiver is by pursuing other interests. If you keep your mind refreshed, then your body will follow suit. But if you let yourself fall into a mental rut, then your overall view of life will change for the worse. In addition to "feeling" tired, you may also actually be physically tired. ... Be aware that if you are sleep deprived, you will encounter psychological effects and your emotions may become amplified." p. 23Loneliness. "The first thing you must do is to tell everyone you know that you welcome company. People may think they're intruding, or they may think that your home has been turned into a hospital ward and with limited visiting hours. ... Your attitude has to be welcoming. You have to put a smile on your face even if you don't feel like it, because after spending some time with a sympathetic human being, you will." p.32Frustration. "If there's one emotion that I can guarantee you're going to feel while caring for someone with Alzheimer's, it's frustration. As the disease progresses, your loved one is going to be doing the same things over and over, such as asking you a question that you answered 5 minutes earlier, and it's going to be very difficult not to become frustrated when this happens. ... Frustration can lead to anger if you let in. So, how do you keep yourself from feeling frustrated? Frustration in such cases comes from having a narrow focus. The more you focus on a particular behavior ... the more frustrated you are going to be." Widen your focus, change the pattern. Make sure your loved one understands your answer -- change the method of communication, show a picture, etc. if that works at this time. Keep in mind that questions may give you hints of what's going on in her mind. If she's asking about dinner, she may be hungry. Try giving her a snack. Distract, especially by giving the person something tactile to do. "Turtles are living proof that if you want to get anywhere, you have to stick your neck out." p.45Getting help early. "having outsiders come into your home is a challenge. You have to learn how to handle this situation and how to make sure that your care recipient is getting the best care. The more advanced the disease, the less able you will be to control the situation. If help arrives when you're overwhelmed, you're likely to just hand over control because you physically and mentally can't take it anymore. but if you bring in outside help at an earlier stage, you can integrate this help into your everyday routine. You can find people who will do the best job. You can be "professional" about it. So rather than fight this milestone, rather than say to yourself as long as I can handle everything, I'll feel as close to normal as possible," I'm advising you to do the reverse. Normalcy isn't in the cards for you any longer, so trying to hold onto it is counterproductive. The sooner you start to adapt to your new non-normal situation, the better. p. 83-84Adjusting to outside help. "You're not marrying this person, so set your sights a little lower. As long as they do offer you help, as long as as it seems the person you're caring for is doing okay under their charge, that's all you really need to expect. If you get more, great, but if you get the minimum you need to be more accepting." p.86Interviewing outside help. You want to know about their past experience working with people with dementia. You'll want to ask them if they ever had any incidents with someone in their care. You want to know that if the person they are caring for gets abusive, how they approach and handle such situations. Try to come up with questions that don't allow for yes or no answers. Try to make the person speak in full sentences so that you really get a picture of them. "If my mom refused to eat lunch, how would you handle it?" By carefully evaluating their response and observing both their verbal and nonverbal signals, you'll learn a lot about them." p.89You and the staff at a facility. "The nicer and more diplomatic you are, the more little gifts you bring, the more polite you are toward them, the better treatment your loved one is likely to get. It doesn't matter whether Medicaid, a private insurance company, or your bank account is paying, what you can offer when you're there is another type of currency that can have a lot of value."