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Tips For Family Caregivers (caring for a person with dementia)

Care For Yourself/Common Sense Care Giving

  • Take one day at a time, tackling each problem as it arises. You cannot know how a dementia patient will behave tomorrow and worrying about tomorrow robs you of the energy you need to deal with today.
  • Be prepared for new situations each day.
  • Generally try to maintain a stable environment. Care should be taken if you are planning a trip since dementia patients often react badly to strange places.
  • Acknowledge your right to feel angry and then do something to get rid of this anger. Punch a pillow, saw wood, smash tennis balls or scrub floors. Do not lash out at the patient since it will only make the situation worse.
  • Maintain a sense of humor. This is especially important to get through such situations as finding that a patient has removed all her clothing to use the toilet after you just spent half an hour dressing her.
  • Try to put yourself in the patient's shoes. You will feel less annoyed the tenth time you are asked what day it is if you think about how unsettling it must be not to know when it is or where things are.
  • Do not assume that the patient does irritating things just to be mean. Seemingly vindictive behavior is usually beyond the control of a patient with a dementia illness. When the patient does things that really annoy you, change the environment or the routine to stop the behavior.
  • Secure Power of Attorney through an attorney before your loved one becomes mentally incompetent. See your bank manager or accountant and setup a good financial plan.
  • It helps to learn as much as you can about the disease and what you can reasonably expect the patient to be able to do. Find out how other people manage by participating in a support group or by talking with other families caring for members with similar illnesses.
  • Learn to cope with hostility, agitation and undesirable behavior. Learn what situations and/or behavior precipitates hostility. Participation in a support group will help you learn how to cope with stressful situations.
  • Give yourself a break. Scheduled respite is essential for the caregiver.
  • Take time out to talk to a friend.
  • Avoid isolation.
  • Find additional help if you need it. A counselor may be necessary and don't be embarrassed to seek one.
  • Remember, you are not alone, keep social ties. Try your best to entertain friends. Keep it small, one or two at a time. This serves two purposes - it is important company for you - and it stimulates your loved one.
  • Involve family and friends in the role of caregiver.

Caring for a dementia patient at home is a 36 hour a day job and you must have regular breaks or your own health will suffer.

Information from Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Assoc. Inc. WNY Chapter (716) 656-8448.

Provided by Erie County Senior Services - 95 Franklin St. Buffalo, NY - (716) 858-8526

Learning To Be Assertive

Learning to be assertive is a step-by-step process. It is a skill that takes time to learn but you can begin now, to claim your legitimate rights.

  1. You have a right to put yourself first, sometimes.
  2. You have a right to make mistakes.
  3. You have a right to ask for help or emotional support.
  4. You have a right to say "no" (without feeling guilty).
  5. You have a right not to have to anticipate other's needs or wishes.
  6. You have a right not to always worry about the goodwill of others.
  7. You have the right to say, "I don't understand."
  8. You have the right to change your mind.
  9. You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
  10. You have a right to choose not to respond to a situation.