Senior Scene September 18, 2017

Thursday, September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day. This is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia that impacts mental functioning.

There is no doubt that caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be a difficult journey, but it can also be a rewarding one. Solving problems and becoming confident in knowing how to give care can provide you with a great sense of satisfaction. We are learning more and more about how to provide good care for the person with Alzheimer’s disease day to day — and still take care of yourself.

Activities such as dressing, grooming, bathing and eating can form a pattern in daily living. Routines help the person with dementia know what to expect, and help her to continue to do things on her own. Doing so will make her feel better about herself.

People with Alzheimer’s disease will eventually lose the ability to carry out these everyday routines and will depend on others to help. So it is important for them to do as much as they can for themselves, for as long as they can. This will help them feel good about themselves and ensure greater dignity and confidence.

Here are some tips for making routines easier: (gender specific references are interchangeable)

  • Try breaking the task down into sections. For example, she may find it easier to continue dressing herself if you put the clothes out for her in the order that she needs to put them on. Or you could pass her the next garment, holding it out ready to grasp at the right place, or encourage her to put her shirt on over her head before you straighten it down for her.
  • Even if he cannot complete a full task, carrying out one or two steps of it—particularly the final step—can give him a sense of achievement.
  • Make sure that any reminders or instructions are simple. Use short sentences, with gestures and body language to add meaning.
  • Be tactful. Try to imagine that you are the person receiving help, and speak in a way that you would find helpful if you were in her position.
  • Try doing things together, such as folding clothes or drying dishes.
  • If there are activities you do regularly, try integrating them into the daily routine.
  • Make sure he does not feel he is being supervised or criticized in any way. This means checking your tone of voice as well as the words you use.
  • When the dementia gets to a more advanced stage, try pointing, demonstrating, or guiding an action rather than giving a verbal explanation. For example, she may be able to brush her own hair if you hand her the brush and start by gently guiding her hand. Try using your voice to make reassuring and encouraging sounds rather than using actual words.

In the meantime, on Sept. 21st, 50 cents from every medium and large coffee sold at McDonald’s restaurants in Belleville, Trenton, Picton and Madoc will support the local Alzheimer Society. Leave for work a few minutes early and stop at your local McDonald’s to grab a cup of java. Not only will you satisfy your caffeine craving, you will support a great local cause. To receive more information on the society’s work, call 613-962-0892 or visit