Do’s and Don’ts When Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease

daughter and mother leaning into each other

If a central Ohio senior you love has Alzheimer’s disease, helping to provide care and support for them can present more than a few unique challenges. Because of the physical damage the disease causes to the brain, everything from judgment to speech can be impacted. For adult children and caregivers, figuring out how to manage these changes isn’t easy. To help, we’ve pulled together a few do’s and don’ts for caregivers struggling with some the most common Alzheimer’s behavioral issues.

Managing Alzheimer’s Confusion

Don’t: When a senior with Alzheimer’s is confused about where they are or when they are going “home,” don’t go into lengthy explanations.

Do: Instead of trying to explain they aren’t living in their own home anymore, try to redirect their attention to another task. Suggest you bake cookies together or listen to their favorite old time tunes. If redirection won’t work, try saying you will take them home tomorrow after your car has an oil change or later tonight when rush hour traffic is done.

The Hurtful Accusations

Don’t: One behavior that is typical for those living with dementia is accusing loved ones of “stealing” from them. It might be their money, a car, or a household item. Don’t let your feelings get hurt or take it personally. This is the disease talking and not your senior loved one.

Do: Trying to reason with them or rationalize the situation won’t work when someone has Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, try to show them where the “missing” item is. In the case of their money, it might be showing them their checkbook or savings statement.

Refusing to Cooperate with Caregivers

Don’t: If your loved one won’t cooperate with caregivers when it is time to take a shower, get dressed, or complete another daily task, don’t adopt an aggressive tone and try to force them to comply.

Do: Try to figure out what is keeping them from doing what you ask. In the case of a shower, it is common for those with Alzheimer’s disease to develop a fear of water. They may be more willing to take a bath instead. It may be modesty if the challenge is helping them get dressed. Try laying their clothes for the day out on the bed in the order they need to put them on. Then let them get dressed on their own. It may be less embarrassing for them to do it on their own.

Want to learn more about managing difficult behaviors when caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? Please visit the Behavioral Symptoms guide written by the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association.