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Watching a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s is one of the hardest things we have to deal with. As a supportive friend or outside relative, it can be difficult to know how to help the person’s caregivers.
Every action, big or small, made in love and kindness helps. But if you really want to make a difference, try these six special ways to show you care and want to be helpful.
How To Help A Family Living With Alzheimer’s
1. Get To Know About The Disease
A lot of people cringe at someone who has Alzheimer’s. Some even think it’s contagious.
To really know what the caregivers are going through, you have to understand the disease itself and how it affects each person. It’s the most common cause of dementia, and as a person loses their memory, they lose other abilities, too.
As you read and learn about Alzheimer’s, you may even come across clinical trials and alternative options for treating the condition. You’re walking a fine line when you suggest treatments to the family members.
However, if you know they’re interested in what you learn, your research could be beneficial. For instance, most caregivers don’t realize that cannabis can reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Your cannabis trimmings, as discussed here by Veriheal, may be exactly what the family needs to get through a rough patch.
2. Offer To Help Consistently
Chances are, the family is going to have lots of people throw out trite offerings of help, hoping to never be taken upon it. You’re different. You truly want to be of assistance.
Show you mean it when you offer by checking in regularly. Ask if anyone needs any groceries when you go to the store. Dry cleaning? A prescription picked up? A sanity break? A meal?
All of these little offerings might not seem like much to you, but to someone living in daily stress, they’re the short break they need to catch a breath.
3. Invite Them To Social Gatherings
Alzheimer’s isn’t something to be ashamed of or hide behind closed doors. The family might enjoy being invited to social gatherings, even if they can’t go at the last minute because of an episode with the patient.
By letting them know that they’re welcome any time and canceling isn’t a hardship, you’re giving them the freedom they thought was taken away. It’s an essential gift that they won’t get from many people.
4. Sit For A Spell
Once you’ve shown that you’re reliable and knowledgeable about what to expect, you can offer to reprieve the family for a while.
Most of the time, they won’t want to “burden” you. However, if you know there’s something important coming up, like a grandchild’s award ceremony or a dinner invitation, extend the reminder.
You’re available and willing, and it’s not a hardship for you to hang out and care for their loved one.
5. Talk To The Person With Alzheimer’s
Have you ever been in a room with someone who has an obvious disability? If so, you’ve noticed that it’s easy to talk to the person or around them. Rarely do most people talk to the afflicted individual.
This is especially true with people who have Alzheimer’s. We assume they don’t realize they’re being ignored. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They repeat themselves.
All of these are true, but at the moment, that person feels either neglected or accepted. If you can spend a few minutes in conversation with a person suffering from dementia, and they feel cared about during that time, wasn’t it worth it, even if they don’t remember it later?
6. Be Patient And Flexible
Offering to be a support system to a family dealing with Alzheimer’s isn’t as simple as it sounds. If they let you in and trust you to be part of their network, you’ll be on call and canceled on frequently.
It’s not the family’s fault, nor is it that of the person with dementia. It’s a disease that has good days and bad. Over time, the bad days will outweigh the good, and many Alzheimer’s patients end up with violent tendencies.
Should you find yourself in the middle of one of these outbreaks, ask the family if they’d like help or if you should leave. If you stay, try to reassure the patient calmly. See if you can get to the root of the frustration or anger.
Get rid of anything that’s making noise. Play some soothing music, or distract the person with something you know they love. Remember, as hard as it is for you to see this violence in action, it’s even harder for the family to do so repeatedly.
While the caregivers handle the episode or whatever has cropped up, you’ll be asked to help or have plans canceled at the last second. Stay patient and remain flexible. It’s the best way to show your support.
Alzheimer’s is, by all accounts, an awful disease. It’s traumatic for the person dealing with it and for their loved ones who feel helpless.
As the disease progresses, many family members lose contact with their friends and outside relatives. If you want to help be a part of the caregiving, every action counts. But these six acts of kindness will matter most.