Whether you are a full time caregiver or an occasional visitor, dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's can be a real challenge. It can be very difficult for you to watch a person you love suffer from Alzheimer's, and there are going to be situations that you may just not know how to respond to. Below, you can read some tips about dealing with a couple of the toughest challenges that having a loved one with Alzheimer's may present.
When They Don't Know Your Name
It may not be unusual for an Alzheimer's patient to fail to recognize you, or at least to forget your name. In some situations, they may call you by the wrong name, perhaps confusing you with other family members or friends.
This can be difficult for you, but it is important to remember that this is not a personal dig at you. The disease has genuinely rendered them incapable of recalling who you are.
Simply state your name and pause to allow them to process this information. You may need to tell them who you are multiple times during a single day or even during a single visit. Tell them your name calmly each time, and don't betray any hint of frustration.
Never respond in a negative way, for example don't remind your loved one that you just told them your name five minutes ago. Patience is definitely required, but this will become second nature soon.
When They Are Argumentative
If your loved one is argumentative, it is important that you don't engage in argument or debate with them. For example, if they are insisting that they were born 40 years later than their actual birth year, simply tell them the correct year of their birth one time. Impart this information in a neutral, calm way.
If they then insist that you're wrong, don't fight it. It is also a mistake to try to reason them into seeing the truth or to prove them wrong, for example in the example above it would be wrong to produce their birth certificate. Doing so would only cause embarrassment for the patient and may easily worsen the situation.
For further assistance, contact a specialist in Alzheimer's care.
Ultimately, dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's will require an adjustment in your own behavior. Your loved one didn't choose this, and is undoubtedly already stressed about their diagnosis during their moments of lucidity. You can make their life much easier simply by providing a supportive, calm, and loving response when they have their toughest challenges.