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What Every Alzheimerís/Dementia Caregiver Must Know

By Kim Warchol, OTR/L, DCCT

(Page 5 of 5)

  • It is true a person with Alzheimerís/dementia may not be able to plan and tend to the garden in the expert way of days gone by; it doesnít mean they wouldnít enjoy planting one plant with caregiver assist, while feeling the sunshine on their face and hearing the birds sing.

Whether a professional caregiver meeting the person for the first time, or a family caregiver in a progression towards acceptance, we must never assume a life or a relationship has less value simply because it has changed. Instead, we must believe those with Alzheimerís/dementia have the potential to lead a meaningful life at every dementia stage if we help to create feelings of purpose and success through loving and supportive interactions and moments.

Summary

There is a fulfilling, rich relationship that can occur and be maintained between a person living with Alzheimerís/ dementia and their caregivers. The secret to achieving this has been shared above. Letís summarize:

  • Caregivers canít care for their loved ones or their clients at the expense of themselves, but must instead seek out help, support and guidance so they never go it alone. The key is to create and be a member of a dementia management team.

  • There is much a caregiver needs to know about how to care for those with Alzheimerís/dementia at each stage and it is called dementia capable care. It is not unlike the basic premises of good child care. Therefore, a person can quickly learn how to be a dementia capable caregiver by applying what is already known from child care, while always being mindful to never treat an adult like a child.

  • Finally, all caregivers must learn to enjoy the precious moments spent with those with Alzheimerís/dementia. The disease should not be allowed to define life or relationships. With a positive perspective, there will be many special moments along the journey if the caregiver stops to see, hear and feel them.


Kim Warchol is an Occupational Therapist specializing in dementia management. She is President of Dementia Care Specialists, a CPI specialized offering which is an international training and consulting organization. Kim has educated thousands of health professionals and consulted to numerous long-term care living environments to facilitate quality dementia care.

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