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15 Things Only Loved Ones Of Alzheimer’s Patients Would Understand

15 Things Only Loved Ones Of Alzheimer’s Patients Would Understand

Alzheimer’s is a physical ailment that damages the brain cells, leading to dementia. The decaying of brain cells causes severe memory loss, as well as reduced thinking skills and emotional capacity. The disease was first discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain cells of a woman who died out of a peculiar mental illness. She suffered from memory loss, speech decay, and erratic behaviour. Upon her death, Dr. Alzheimer investigated her brain and discovered many abnormal clumps (they are now known as amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fiber (now known as neurofibrillary tangles). Therefore, it was concluded that plaques and tangles (the result of protein buildup in the brain) are the main two reasons for Alzheimer’s disease. Loss of connections among nerve cells in the brain is another contributing factor.

Alzheimer’s disease usually begins around the age of 65. This estimation varies, naturally. But experts say that 5 million Americans suffer from this disease by the time they are 65 or older. Of course, there are treatments for this illness. As these treatments have become more advanced over time, doctors have been injecting the missing chemicals into the brains, helping them to receive some signals. Alzheimer’s starts gradually, eventually interfering with daily life. Patients end up totally dependent on another person, unable to do even the simplest of work.

It is the patients’ loved ones who most understand the difficulties that Alzheimer’s patients face. This article is dedicated to those beautiful souls who undertake the full time job of taking care of these patients with utmost love. Here are 15 things only these loved ones would understand:

1. You know that the person is more than a disease.

Your loved one can be your father, or mother, or your partner. Regardless of the relationship you have to that person, you always know that the person means the world to you. This is the person, who at one time loved you and took care of you just like you are doing now. This person is who you have known all your life, even though they will never function like they used to.

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2. You use every process of communication to reach your loved one.

Your loved one has memory loss, no way to express emotions, or perhaps even worse, your loved one fails to recognize you. It doesn’t mean you stop taking care of him or her. You try your best to communicate with them through different mediums of connection. It can be music, reading books, watching television shows, or talking about daily occurrences. Even a simple touch on the arm can give them the message that they are loved.

3. You cannot argue with your loved one.

With the loss of behavioral abilities, a patient is left with little reasoning ability. They may react aggressively at times. You know there is no point in arguing with your loved one. Rather, arguments would lead to more upsetting situations and would frustrate both parties. It is better just to agree with the things they say.

4. You know your person is not changing, but the disease is.

It is extremely hard to see the gradual change the person is going through right in front of your eyes. The struggles in language, the lack of communication, the changes in mood, the shift in personality, and all other negative factors come from the disease. It is not the patient’s fault. Your loved one is the same person, even though he or she cannot control the situation anymore.

5. You have to be educated about this disease.

I have tried my best to summarize the term Alzheimer’s. But it is more than that. Researchers have been studying this disease for years. Here is a website where you can go and study it more in detail. Becoming more educated about the disease will help you to better understand the person you are taking care of.

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6. You must give them independence when possible.

If your loved one is in a more mild stage, you should give them some independence to do their own work. They should at least try to do some activities in order to stay active. In these ways, your loved ones can stimulate their brains to carry messages as much as possible. Of course, they will eventually stop being able to accomplish such tasks once they reach the moderate to severe stages. Until then, encourage them to do things like count money, keep a diary, or talk about things they are fond of or remember well.

7. You should develop set routines and schedules.

As the illness develops further, it becomes very hard for you and your loved one to keep track of daily routines. Just like nursing a baby, you should have a set rhythm with them. Remember, this person is like a child to you. Keeping a daily routine and schedule will make life much easier. This can help to eliminate confusion and frustration for your loved one.

8. You have to continue with good nutrition.

Your loved ones need a proper, balanced diet. Studies have shown that a lack of healthy food can contribute to worsening Alzheimer’s. It is recommended that a patient cut down on refined sugar and increase intake of fruits and vegetables to help better manage the disease.

9. You should plan time for physical exercise.

Did you know that physical exercise is extremely beneficial for your loved one? Their bodies need to stay healthy just like yours does. Regardless of the stage they are in (it is better if they start from an early stage, since the habits will build as time progresses), you can accompany them on daily walks, gardening, or even dancing!

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10. You should maintain the current list of medications.

You should take your loved one to regular check-ups. The doctors will fix the medications according to the stage that they are in. It is very important to maintain the list of current medicines. You should take extra caution to see to it that they don’t miss a single dose.

11. You cannot forget that your loved one has emotions too.

Yes, they may forget you, they may get angry at you, or they may ignore you for days, but they do have emotions. Your actions and words can have a great impact on them. One of my uncles suffers from Alzheimer’s. He cannot remember anyone, not even his children! But sometimes, he would smile at them, or laugh with them. Check out this article and see for yourself why emotions matter!

12. You have to be realistic in your expectations.

Whether it is your expectations for yourself or for your loved ones, you have to be realistic. This is very significant because setting practical goals will make you expect the unexpected. In this way, you won’t feel disappointed as you see your loved one struggle with this disease.

13. You should have fun with your loved one!

Just because your loved one is suffering from a horrible disease doesn’t mean that they cannot have fun. Plan a trip to the zoo, or to the nearest park, and take your family members with you as well. Take plenty of photos, and bear in mind that even though your loved one may not show emotions, they still certainly enjoyed your company!

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14. You should ALWAYS remember that Alzheimer’s detection is NOT a death sentence!

It is not the end of the world. No, a patient of Alzheimer’s can live for twenty or more years with the disease. Utilize whatever time you have at hand and make the most out of it. Don’t leave a hollow space that will leave you with regrets.

15. You must love your loved ones as they are now.

You should not try to change them, because they will never go back to their old selves. You should embrace them as they are, in their current situations, with their current behaviours, their frequent mood swings, and everything that is related to them. In other words, love them as they are right now!

You should not perceive your loved ones as burdens, because they are not! There will be total life changing experiences for you as you struggle to cope with your new role. You will get upset and emotionally challenged at times, but always remember that this is a person who has loved you very much. Respect them, love them, and live with them.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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