By Zen Vuong
Seeing the personality and whole being erased in loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease can be a heart-wrenching experience.
Mental health expert María Aranda, executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, doesn’t want you to go through it alone. The associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work distills her 30-plus years of helping caregivers manage stress into five critical categories you need to master as you help your family member face Alzheimer’s.
How should I interact with a family member who has Alzheimer’s?
Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s affects each person differently at different stages, and what works at the early stage may not work later.
Don’t define your loved ones by their disease. Treat them like an adult, not a child. Don’t talk about them within earshot as though they don’t understand what’s going on. Respect their ability to communicate what they feel, believe and want.
Try to see things from their perspective and use humor to lighten the mood. Don’t give too many requests at one time. Don’t get stuck on having them see your side of things. Focus on the feelings behind the words.
Establishing daily routines can be a huge help. Identify what routines make sense and be flexible when they don’t work out as planned.