So here you are, the caregiver for your spouse or your parents or grandparents or whomever, what’s next? How do you know what to do? How do you know what not to do?
Those are the questions many caregivers have asked themselves at some point while living with this disease. A positive approach may be your best way to deal with the person living with dementia. The Positive Approach to Care (TM) is certainly a good tool to have in your caregiver tool box.
First, you need to know that humans take in data five ways; First- What we see (this is primary); second – What you hear; third — What you feel/touch; fourth – What you smell; and fifth – What you taste.
Let’s concentrate on the first three ways the human brain takes in data. Remember from our notes last week, the visual field grows smaller, so you want to face the person living with dementia and show them what you want to do or what you want them to do. Be patient, remember to give them time to comprehend. Once you have shown them what you want to do, tell them what you want to do, when they see and hear and only then do you have permission to touch. If you approach a person living with dementia and touch them before you have given a visual and verbal cue, watch out. It will probably not go very well. Dementia robs skill before robbing strength, so if you do not want to get smacked, no touching until you’ve given a visual and verbal cue.
Caregivers this is something you must practice. It will take time. Caregivers please remind yourself they are doing the best they can do and it will be a different challenge every day. Cortisol is a stress hormone. When our brain gets nervous and anxious it can dump cortisol into our system, this causes us to become even more distressed and our brain not to work well. When you become frustrated just step back and take three deep, slow breaths, inhale fully and exhale fully. This is a learned behavior that, with practice, makes perfect. Remember your loved one can still understands facial expressions and hears the tone of your voice. When you get irritated take those three deep breaths.
Teepa Snow developed the “Hand-under-Hand” (TM) technique. It is a very simple concept; however, it would be difficult to explain on paper. This technique will connect you to the person living with dementia, it will allow you to do with the person rather than do to the person and it allows the person living with dementia to feel they are in control. The technique assists with guiding and helping with movement; it offers a sense of control even when you are doing almost everything. I demonstrate this technique at my workshops and the Dementia Education and Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting. Our Dementia Education and Alzheimer’s Support Group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. in the Department of Aging Training room. I encourage you to come join Marie Daniels, PAC Independent Certified Trainer, Marie Faircloth, Alzheimer’s Facilitator and myself, you will receive a wealth of information. FMI, you may call 910-592-4653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week I will cover “Normal/Not Normal Aging”. Hope you all have a “Best Day Ever”.
Lesia Henderson is a Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer and Sampson County Department of Aging Family Caregiver Support Specialist.