Helping an aging loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia can be difficult. We understand that you want to help your senior cling on to their memory for as long as possible. While every caregiver is different, and every patient is unique, there are still a few do’s and do not's that every caregiver should follow.

DO NOT – Ask you aging loved one, “Don’t you remember?!” Saying this makes them think they have done something wrong.

DO – Learn as much as you can about their family, friends, and history. This will help you better understand their actions and reactions.

DO NOT – Force your client to do anything. If they will not eat, take a small break, and come back to it. Being stubborn won’t help anyone.

DO – Treat your aging loved one as the normal human being they are. Baby talking or talking as if your senior wasn’t there is hurtful.

One of the most important things you can do before your loved one shows a significant decline in his or her memory is to keep a journal of all the stories, jokes, recipes and other important or interesting information that they may wish to share with you. As your loved one's memory begins to fade, the information that you have written down will be crucial in keeping your family member engaged in a conversation or activity. Your mom may wish to cook her favorite dish, but can't quite remember the recipe. Your dad may begin a story, but not remember exactly how it ended. In addition, you may want to pass some of these stories and recipes on to your children and once the dementia becomes more severe, these stories may be lost forever.

Another important step in helping your loved one deal with his or her dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is to become a better caregiver yourself. There are ways to interact with an individual with this condition. The things you say or do can play a large role in being able to get your loved one to do a specific task. There are many different cues that are used that can be helpful in getting him or her to eat, drink, dress or shower. For instance, start conversations with a positive comment such as, “Mom, your dress looks lovely on you.” Do not start by saying something negative such as, “Mom, didn't you wear that dress yesterday?” In addition, don't tell your loved one what to do, but stand beside them and do the task along with them. Brush your teeth together or eat at the same time.

There are many classes, seminars and lectures on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Check with your local senior center, library or hospital. Senior Helpers Home Care has been doing presentations of their Senior Gems program all over Monmouth and Middlesex County for the past few months and continues to present the program in a variety of facilities including assisted living buildings, Adult day Care centers and rehabilitation facilities. The next program will be held at The Chelsea Assisted living in Tinton Falls on Tuesday 9/24 at 5:30pm. Please RSVP to (732) 740-9721 if you would like to attend.

In addition, many of the caregivers that work for Senior Helpers Home Care have been trained through an additional 7 hour course taught by a certified dementia expert to better help the caregiver understand the needs of their client with dementia. Please call your local Monmouth and Middlesex Senior Helper's office at (732) 866-4488 for further information.

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