Dec 5, 2011

Give your loved one SUCCESS!

The important thing is that you do them with her. It’s a shared activity.

By Carole Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Q. My mom has early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Some days she can do something easily, other days not so much. Are there ways in which I can help her live independently and productively?

A. Absolutely! It is all about you controlling her environment so that the things that she attempts
to do are successful. Quietly, and in the background you want to simplify tasks that she does so that she is able to accomplish things herself.

This way she is able to feel good about herself, and most importantly, feel that she still has independence. No one wants to be a burden to others; especially to their children!

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For example, make bill paying a joint effort; that is, you and your mom do it together.

See how she is doing that day. If it’s a good day, all you do is watch her do it, or maybe just put the stamp on the envelope.

As time goes by maybe you write the name of who the check is going to and spell out the amount of money being paid. Mom can fill in the actual numbers of the dollar amount and sign her name.

Still later she can just sign her name. Later even than that. She can put the stamp on. That way she gets to feel like she has contributed and gets to own the activity.

Think about ways you can simplify things. What used to be a multi step task can now become a one step task. Salad now comes in a bag, rather than made from scratch. Premade meals or microwavable meals can be substituted for cooking from scratch. Laundry can be broken down into simpler steps with her doing the tasks and you watching and cueing her as needed. Cleaning tasks should be treated the same as laundry; tasks are broken down and simplified.
Things she enjoys doing should be simplified.

Arranging flowers is a task that is simple and can’t go wrong.

There is no right or wrong in painting.

You can think of other enjoyable things for her to do.

The important thing is that you do them with her. It’s a shared activity.

If she’s a social person, she should be with others of her own age. Taking her or arranging transportation to a senior center, and a day care facility (later) is a good thing. She will operate on her own there (under supervision) and that is enabling for her.

So to sum up, if you make the environment safe for her, then she should attempt everything she can attempt as long as it’s simplified or broken down into smaller tasks.

If she gets frustrated, just move on to a different task. It’s all about having her feel good, confident and successful in the moment.

It’s sort of a move it or lose it thing.

Carole Larkin MA,CMC,CAEd,QDCS,EICS,
is a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Creating Moments of Joy: A Journal for Caregivers, Fourth Edition

The 36-Hour Day A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease

Original content Carole Larkin, the Alzheimer's Reading Room