Living in the Moment with Alzheimer’s
I gave Maria some coping strategies for caregivers. The stress which caregivers experience can be the tipping point in their own health both physical and mental:
- Stress is contagious. When you feel stressed, the Alzheimer’s patient absorbs your stress. It is important to keep yourself in balance by eating properly and exercising. As you see from this narrative Maria was in the gym trying to burn off her stress hormones which cause inflammation in the body. She was trying to elevate her mood by increasing endorphin levels.
- Don’t absorb the demands, the strange images or harsh words of an Alzheimer’s patient. Put up your invisible shield to put strange or inconsiderate, angry remarks into the context of the disease. One moment is bad; the next is better.
- Play the patient’s favorite music. Music is sound therapy and a great persuader to feel upbeat.
- Touch the patient. The power of touch is healing. Disease makes a person feel alienated. It is important to convey love through touching and caressing.
- Show the patient photos from the family album. This often sparks interest and recognition.
- Flex your funny bone. Act silly, make faces and laugh a lot. Humor will de-stress the two of you. Good moods are contagious and boost the immune system.
Alzheimer’s is a disease about letting go of resentment and anger. You get a fresh start every moment. We can all learn to live in the moment.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show