Alzheimer’s Care Consultant Corner with Marianne Haynes, RN

Marianne Haynes, Care Consultant Alzheimer’s Association, shares a bit advice when caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Who should I contact if I suspect I may have Alzheimer’s disease?

It may be difficult at first to acknowledge the symptoms that you are experiencing. However, early detection of any medical issues allows you to access the best treatments available. If you suspect that you are having memory problems, you should contact your primary care physician and make him aware of the symptoms you are experiencing. You may then request a referral to a neurologist. A neurologist will perform a variety of tests to better identify the source of your symptoms. Our website has a local resource list that provides a list of neurologists as well as local diagnostic and assessment centers.

My husband has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. How do I respond to my loved one’s repetitive questions?

The source of your husband’s questioning may be due to the way Alzheimer’s disease affects short term memory. Although it may be frustrating, answer the questions as calmly as possible. Don’t try to reason with him; instead, redirect him to another activity. One way is to identify the cause of the behavior. He may be expressing an emotional or physical need that he isn’t able to articulate. This requires you to step into the reality that your husband is living in. Attempts to pull him into your reality (e.g. reminding him that you have already answered a question) may only escalate the situation. It is important to remain calm and understand that he is not behaving this way on purpose.

I am the primary caregiver for my mother who lives in my home. I am so stressed out. What can I do for relief?

Caring for a loved one can be a full time job. The quality of care that we are able to give to your mother is a direct reflection of the quality of care that we give to yourself. This means paying attention to the physical and emotional signs of caregiver stress and responding to them. Participating in activities that reduce your stress, visiting your doctor regularly, engaging in physical activity and seeking support are just some of the many ways you can take care of yourself. The Alzheimer’s Association also has support groups and a list of local In-home respite agencies and Adult Day Care Centers that will allow you rest and relief from your daily concerns. These resources also give the person with dementia a chance to interact with others.

My wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She continuously asks what’s wrong with me. Should I tell her she has Alzheimer’s disease?

Disclosing a diagnosis is a very personal decision. How and when you do it will depend on the individual and their perception of the disease. Initially, it may be addressed by explaining to your wife that she is experiencing memory problems. There are some strategies such as lists that can be used for support after a diagnosis. Ultimately, understanding who you wife was before and after the diagnosis is key to determining how to disclose the diagnosis to her.

AlzTex Admin

The Alzheimer's Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter (www.alz.org/texas) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.