Jan 17, 2013

Dementia Care Finding Simple Solutions to Problems

Sometimes the best solution to a problem in Alzheimer's and Dementia care is the most simple and direct solution.

Dementia Care Finding Simple Solutions to Problems, Alzheimer's Reding Room

by Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's caregivers find it difficult to deal with behaviors that come along with Alzheimer's disease.

Sometimes it is best to find a simple solution to an ongoing problem.

Have a simple solution to a problem? Tell us about it in the comments box below this article. Or better yet, write an article for the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

Here are some examples of simple solutions that work.

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The Wallet

I've been taking care of my husband, John, who has dementia. John constantly misplaces his wallet and gets upset when he can't find it. I've tried to convince him that he doesn't need to carry a wallet anymore because I'm taking care of the bills and expenses, but this doesn't satisfy him.

One day when John was getting quite agitated about his lost wallet and I couldn't find it anywhere, I came across an old wallet that had belonged to our son. I put a couple of dollars in the wallet and gave it to John -- and he was delighted.

I realized it wasn't that he needed his wallet, but that he needed a wallet. Having money in his pocket meant a lot to John, especially because he'd grown up poor. Now I keep extra wallets on hand for whenever his gets lost, and we're both much happier.

A Memory Book

My dad has Alzheimer's and we've discovered how useful a memory book can be.

I've put family stories and pictures into a nice album. Sometimes we just sit and visit and look at the photos.

It's also been useful for visitors. If they don't know what to talk about with Dad, they can always pick up the memory book and share something he enjoys.

Nighttime Incontinence

I first realized that Mom needed help with her nighttime incontinence when I arrived at her apartment earlier than expected one morning. She was up and about but I noticed that the bedding was wet with urine.

What to do? In the short-term we got creative.

First I took the sheets and mattress pad off the bed and tossed them in the wash. The mattress wasn't wet, but we let it air out while we went out for breakfast.

We thought about what we could use to protect her mattress pad from getting wet again. Turns out she had a vinyl table cloth with a flannel backing that we could use. We could have used a shower curtain liner, covered with a flannel sheet, too.

When we re-made the bed I put the table cloth, flannel side up, on top of the mattress pad and beneath the bottom sheet. A little crinkly, but not too bad!

Later that week I went to a medical supply store near my house and bought two reusable "underpads" -- flat absorbent pads with a waterproof backing -- specifically designed to protect bed linen and chairs. They're soft and nicer to sleep on than the vinyl table cloth.

I also bought a package of disposable underpads in case both reusable ones were in the wash.

Adult Day Care

My mother had Parkinson's and my dad had Alzheimer's. Mom was taking care of Dad pretty well, but as her own disease progressed it got harder and harder. She needed some relief from caregiving, time to herself, and time to rest.

I found an adult day care center that Dad could go to a couple of times a week. This was very hard for him. He didn't like the change and resisted going there, which made things harder for Mom.

So Mom and I started putting notes in his pocket. The notes would tell him why he was at day care, when he'd be picked up to go home, and who would be picking him up. These notes were very reassuring to him, and with them Dad found it a lot easier to go to day care.

Multiple Sources including Oregon Health and Science University

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room