The Alzheimer’s Association has designated the summer solstice or the longest day as a day of love. Yes, it can feel like the longest day when you are the caregiver, so it’s important we bring the sun to every person and every interaction. Sun brings comfort, light and warmth. So can we! Each caregiver can be the light in the room and bring sunshine to caregiving and to each interaction we have with an Alzheimer’s resident. Here’s how:
- Light the room with your smile and let them feel your loving presence with a gentle touch.
- Look for strengths. Praise them for what they are doing right.
- Utilize their long term memory. Focus on routine. Know their history.
- Remember the basics. Say please and thank you. Manners matter.
- Slow down. Get down to their level. Never look down or put them down.
- Communicate in simple language. Speak Slowly. Break down the task and provide one step at a time. Give visual cues to support your language.
- When language fails, sing ‘You are my sunshine,’ pray the Lord’s Prayer or just smile.
- Ask only, ‘Yes or No’ questions. Agree with them. Let them ‘win.’
- Make conversation personal. Tell them your name. Call them by their name.
- Be in the moment. Their moment. What are they seeing and feeling?
- Re-direct to another location.
- Distract to another subject.
- Focus on the relationship. Win the person, not the battle.
- Ensure their basic needs are met (hunger, toileting, fatigue)
- Assess for pain.
- Always approach from the front.
- Above all else, Be kind. Remember the Golden Rule.
Together we can make a difference. One interaction at a time. One person at a time.
For more tips, go to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org.
Submitted by Martha Hawn, LCSW
Long Term Care Consultant and Hospice Social Worker