Feb 23, 2013

How to Develop an Alzheimer's Frame of Reference

You must develop a foundation on which to build your own working frame of reference that will allow you to cope with, deal with, and communicate with a person living with Alzheimer's Disease.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

How to Develop an Alzheimer's Frame of Reference
Over time I continue to receive emails that fall in the general category of Alzheimer's behaviors that drive Alzheimer's caregivers nuts.

In the last week, I received two emails asking me what to do when an AD patients follows the caregiver around all over the house and won't allow the caregiver to get out of their site.

If there are behaviors that are driving you "crazy" it is likely that you are moody and even angry at times. Moodiness and anger do not lead to effective Alzheimer's caregiving. They lead to stress and heartache.

It is my belief that Alzheimer's caregivers can and will benefit by developing a better understanding of Alzheimer's, what it is, and how it works in the brain. I think it is also beneficial to learn that many of the behaviors you are experiencing are common place with persons suffering from a dementia related illness.

Caregivers are often lonely and often feel abandoned. They are usually surprised when they first learn, they are not alone.

When you first go to school you learn your ABCs. Before you know it you are reading words, and then reading sentences. However, it is unlikely that you will learn to read, and learn to read well before you grasp the basics of reading. Most of us take reading for granted. We just do it, we don't think about the ABCs.

Effective Alzheimer's care requires that you learn your ABCs first.

You must develop a foundation on which to build your own working frame of reference that will allow you to cope with, deal with, and communicate with a person living with Alzheimer's Disease.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room

This is the most frequently asked question by persons trying to understand Alzheimer's and dementia -- What is the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia? We actually have a very good article on this topic. Care to guess the title? What's the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?

There is a common misunderstanding that Alzheimer's is worse than dementia. In other words, if you suffer from dementia you are only senile. But, when you suffer from Alzheimer's disease -- way bad. If you watch television often enough you will start to notice that there are people and reporters that just can't say Alzheimer's. Instead they say dementia. Alzheimer's is so scary some people can't say the word. They should read the article and learn the difference.

I also found that many Alzheimer's caregivers don't really know what is happening in the brain of someone suffering from AD. Since they don't know what is happening and why, common Alzheimer's behaviors drive them "crazy".

I often ask a caregiver, do you know why the person living with AD asks you the same question or does the same things over and over? Most often the answer is No.

For starters, Alzheimer's patients can't remember they just asked the question, or just engaged in the behavior. To be honest, if I didn't get a grip on this myself, I would have gone "nuts" myself.

For almost 8 years now Dotty still says, "I'm hungry, I'm starving". She says this even if she just ate a steak and a baked potato. She just can't remember she ate.

When Dotty asks herself if she just ate, and she can't answer herself (in her head), then she must assume she didn't eat. If she doesn't remember eating then she must be hungry.

We have a very good article by Carol Larkin that will help you get a better understanding why Alzheimer's patients cannot remember what just happened a minute ago, and how they can remember at the same time something that happened many years ago. How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s Disease, and How Understanding This Could Help You.

The brain of a person suffering from AD deteriorates over time. Understanding how this deterioration develops, and the effects of this deterioration, are really critical to becoming an effective Alzheimer's caregiver. Understanding is the key word. We have a very good video that addresses this issue -- How Alzheimer's Destroys the Brain. I believe that every single person that is being touched by Alzheimer's should watch this video. It is easy to understand and it is short in length.

We have two articles here that I wrote. These two articles bring to me emails that are full of emotion. Alzheimer's caregivers across the board tell me how happy and sometimes relieved they were to read these article.

The first of the two, Alzheimer's Disease -- The Front Row, is simple and straightforward, if you aren't walking in our shoes then it is unlikely that you can understand what it is really like being in our shoes. It isn't easy being us.

The second, Are Alzheimer's Caregivers the Forgotten?, brings to me the longest, most heart felt, and most emotionally charged emails and responses of any article I have ever written. Nothing else comes close. This article tells the Alzheimer's Caregiver that it is not just them; and that, they are not alone.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room. Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

What's the Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia?
Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's (5 Best Memory Tests)
Alzheimer's, Dementia, and Types of Dementia
Alzheimer's Clock Draw Test -- Detect the Signs of Alzheimer's Early
Communicating in Alzheimer's World
Alzheimer's, Your Brain, and Adaptability
The First Sign of Alzheimer's Short Term Memory Loss

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room