Carer Tips

As a carer, you'll find yourself constantly needing to adapt to new challenges and potentially stressful situations. Here are some tips designed to help you deal with your loved one's condition on a daily basis as well as focus on the more rewarding aspects of caring for someone.

Simplify things

Cut down on clutter around the house. For example, leave only what's needed on the kitchen table and trim closets down to the clothes that will be worn in a season. To help with forgetfulness, leave notes for the individual.

Limit choices

When offering options to a person with Alzheimer's disease, don't ask open-ended questions. For example, instead of saying "What do you want for lunch?" you can ask "Would you like soup or a salad for lunch?"

Use a medication dispenser

Place all tablets and capsules in weekly dispenser or use blister packs or dosettes (medications that are arranged in daily packets by a pharmacist). Remember to check daily that all the right medications have been taken.

Reduce background noise

When speaking to a person with Alzheimer's disease, ensure that there is as little background noise and activity as possible – it makes it easier for the person to focus on what you're saying.

Have patience

Try not to test the person's memory with questions like: "What did you have for dinner?" When word finding is hard, give the person some time, and be prepared to provide the word that the person is looking for. Maintain eye contact, and use gestures and visual cues to help you get your message across. Try keeping sentences short and simple, and remember that tone of voice is important. Avoid arguing, because it will only make life harder for both of you.

Make it easy to use the phone

Dealing with the telephone can be difficult for a person with Alzheimer's disease. Keep a list of important and frequently dialled numbers by the phone along with your name, phone number and address. If the person with Alzheimer's disease is uncomfortable answering the phone, tell them its okay to let it ring, then arrange for a voice mail or an answering machine.

Encourage social activity

Encourage the person with Alzheimer's disease to continue seeing family and friends and maintain their routine outings. Help them stay active by getting a referral to a local respite or day program. Your local Alzheimer's Australia can help you do this. If social outings become difficult for them to manage themselves, take on the task of doing the scheduling. If they find it too challenging to leave the house, consider inviting close family or friends over for short visits.

For more useful strategies that can help carers address the various symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and allow them to help the individual be more independent in daily living, visit Alzheimer's Australia website.