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20th September 2017

Understanding Alzheimer’s (World Alzheimer’s Day - 21st September)

There are currently 850,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025 (source: Alzheimer’s Society). Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can have a profound effect on somebody’s life, whether it comes as a total surprise or is something that has been suspected for a while. The symptoms and behaviours that a person with Alzheimer’s displays can also be upsetting and unsettling for the people close to them – whether it’s a partner who has been beside them for 50 years, their grown-up children, or lifelong close friends.

In today’s blog we take a look at how to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer in a positive way, and to understand that despite the challenging behaviours associated with the illness, there are ways to make caregiving less stressful and to improve the relationship and quality of life for the patient.

  1. Create a positive mode of interaction

The way you communicate with somebody with Alzheimer’s is crucial, with body language and tone of voice just as important as the words that you’re speaking. Speak in a clear and pleasant manner, using facial expressions and physical touch to convey your message.

 

  1. Be patient

It is easy to get frustrated with somebody who is unable to express themselves as clearly as they used to, and can be upsetting to see them struggling to communicate. It is important to be patient in these situations. It is okay to prompt and suggest words that a loved one may be searching for, and look out and interpret nonverbal cues and body language. Always try to understand the feelings and emotions that they are trying to convey.

 

  1. Respond with affection

A common symptom of dementia is confusion and anxiety. The best way to help with this is providing reassurance, and showing that you understand their feelings and worries. Sometimes people recall events that never happened, and it’s important that you don’t try to convince them they’re wrong, but rather focus on positive events that did take place. Again, encouraging and optimistic language plays a large part of the response to somebody who is confused.

 

  1. Enjoy the memories

Many people with Alzheimer’s may have trouble recalling what happened 30 minutes previously, but they are able to tell stories from many years ago in great detail. Enjoy these moments! It can bring a great deal of joy for both the patient and their loved-one to immerse themselves in these stories of the past, and can help the person with Alzheimer’s feel relaxed, settled and calm.

 

  1. Use humour

Maintaining a sense of humour can be a great help – and people with Alzheimer’s often maintain their sense of humour and love to laugh along with the joke.

There is no denying that Alzheimer’s is incredibly stressful and difficult to deal with, however employing positive strategies can help both the sufferer and their carers cope and find light in the darkest of times.