Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. Imagine you wake up one day and you look around to find yourself in a room you don’t recognize. This feels weird, but a nice woman walks into the room and says, “Time to get up. Your breakfast is ready!” You don’t know this woman and you’re not sure if you really trust her. You look around again. Your anxiety builds and all you want to do is go home! This is what some people with Alzheimer’s go through when their memory fails them.
Caring for a loved one who’s had experiences like this can be heart-wrenching to watch. As caregivers, all we want to do is help. Luckily, we have a few tips for easing anxiety in your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
The first thing you can do to lower your loved one’s anxiety is to regularly explain who certain people are and what is going on. Even if it seems like they don’t understand what you are saying, he or she will still feel reassured by your expression and your confidence.
Another good way to ease anxiety in a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is to maintain a consistent routine. Creating and sticking to a routine will usually provide the person a greater sense of comfort and security in their otherwise hectic world. Disruptions in daily routines (like holiday or birthday gatherings) can elevate your loved one’s anxiety and make it harder for them to get back to a normal schedule once the disturbance is over. Also, remember that your loved one may be sensitive to the mood of a room or certain vibes.
The Alzheimer’s Association also recommends the following tips to prevent or reduce agitation:
- Create a calm environment.
Remove stressors. This may involve moving the person to a safer or quieter place, or offering a security object, rest or privacy. Try soothing rituals and limiting caffeine use.
- Avoid environmental triggers.
Noise, glare and background distraction (such as having the television on) can act as triggers.
- Monitor personal comfort.
Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Be sensitive to fears, misperceived threats and frustration with expressing what is wanted.
- Simplify tasks and routines.
- Provide an opportunity for exercise.
Go for a walk. Garden together. Put on music and dance.
Remember, the person you care for is not doing this on purpose; it is a symptom of the disease. If you need a professional to talk to about your feelings as a caregiver, reach out to us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center. Feel free to call us at 561-588-4545 or send us an email!