Five Steps to Better Emotional Health with ALZ
Feelings linger longer than facts. A fresh approach to dementia care can make the difference between frustration and contentment, both for people living with Alzheimer’s as well as those who care for and about them.
All of us have an emotional “temperature” that changes minute by minute. People are said to be “hot and bothered” or “coolly detached” Impatience rises when you are asked the same question over and over, just as resentment can simmer when your plans are usurped by your loved one’s needs. For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, emotions outlive the ability of language, memory, and understanding to express themselves. Here are five ways to capture the power of emotion:
1. Understand the person’s behavior is largely fueled by their emotions, and that is why you have to change the environment or your own expectations to set up an everyday world that is calm and reassuring.
2. Keep your own emotions on as even a keel as you can. Emotional reaction can outlast the memory of what made the person feel that way in the first place.
3. Join in the moment, rather than forever correcting the person. Challenging the assumption of someone with Alzheimer’s and correcting the person over and over may only serve to make them more frustrated or even frightened.
4. Tap into the power of touch. Whether it’s a sympathetic pat on your loved one’s back or a hug, the body collects emotional info through touch, even if nobody speaks. Just be sincere about it.
5. Open your heart to the idea that emotion is not only deep and primal, but transcendent for both of you. Emotions have a language all their own. Sometimes those with Alzheimer’s speak disjointed nonsense and random sounds, but they still have the ability to stir emotion and be a blessing to others.
on October 6, 2015