Jolene Brackey, author of ‘Creating Moments of Joy’ and lead educator on the online course ‘Creating Moments of Joy for People with Alzheimer’s’ on the FutureLearn social learning platform, shares her tips on overcoming the challenges that the everyday battles of Alzheimer’s present.
1. Live their truth
When someone living with Alzheimer’s asks for their Mum or their husband, who are no longer living, how can you make them feel like they are okay in this moment? Responses such as “your Mum will be right back” or “your husband is at work,” will make them feel reassured.
2. Stop correcting them
People living with Alzheimer’s are not confused until we intervene and remind them that something is wrong. Instead of saying: “Remember your wife isn’t home”, try saying: “she’s out getting her hair done.”
Instead of saying: “I told you ten times you had a doctor’s appointment,” replace this with: “Oh, I forgot to tell you about the doctors. I’m so sorry.” Likewise, instead of saying: “That is not your sweater,” you could say: “Look, I found this beautiful sweater. Let’s see how it looks on you.” Or simply let them wear the sweater.
3. Visit without words
The closest thing to memory a person with Alzheimer’s has is what they see and touch. Bring them a nostalgic food they love, bring them a dress you wore when you were little, or an object they used to play with. What do you have in your loft that will trigger positive memories?
4. Give them their memories back
When you’re chatting on the phone, rather than saying “Remember when I was little…” Instead say, “Mum, I love it when you and I go shopping and get ice cream.” This will bring their memories into the present.
5. Create moments of joy for the caregiver
Don’t ask how you can help, just help. Drop off a meal, cut the grass for them, do their food shopping, say you have a couple of hours on Sunday to sit their wife or husband so they can go out and get their hair done, or simply go for a walk.
You can learn more about Creating moments of joy for people with Alzheimer’s with Purdue University and Purdue University Press on the FutureLearn social learning platform.