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Alzheimer's Real-Life Stories

Managing Stress for Alzheimer’s Patients

Managing Stress for Alzheimer’s Patients

Even seemingly minor changes in routine can cause Alzheimer’s patients undue stress and frustration. A Dementia Care Specialist who knows how to properly diffuse a situation that might otherwise blow up into something much worse, however, can quickly help restore peace and order.

Betty’s Buggy Day

Betty, a senior client who had regularly scheduled visits for help with cooking, cleaning, yard work, and other random household activities, had been enjoying a nice day in the yard with her caregiver. At least, that was until an exterminator came and explained that she was scheduled for a treatment.

Because Betty had forgotten about the appointment, she was upset, and did not want to have to stay outside for the hours it would take for the man to complete the treatment. Her caregiver, seeing Betty’s frustration, discussed their options with the exterminator and learned that if organic pesticides were used inside the home, she and Betty would not need to stay outside, which helped diffuse some of Betty’s frustration.

The treatment itself, however, still proved stressful for Betty because after he sprayed, insects started to emerge from their hiding spots. Betty was upset that she and her caregiver would need to throw away food packages that were infested, and she didn’t want to. Fortunately, Betty’s caregiver had extensive training in helping dementia patients cope with stressful situations. Not only did she patiently explain to Betty why they needed to throw away the infested foodstuffs, she helped Betty relax while she finished the work in the kitchen. This both removed Betty from the stressful situation and made sure that the spoiled foodstuffs were safely discarded.

Managing Stress for Alzheimer’s Patients

This true story shows how different strategies and techniques can be used to help reduce stress for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. To help manage Betty’s stress, her caregiver employed the following techniques:

Exercise – She and Betty started the day doing yard work in the back yard.

Modifying the environment – When Betty became upset that food in the kitchen would need to be thrown away, her caregiver had her relax in the living room instead. This change in environment helped reduce her agitation.

Maintaining a calm demeanor – Betty’s caregiver stayed calm throughout the day, making it easier for her to find a good compromise with the exterminator and to reduce Betty’s agitation.

By deflecting Betty’s frustration and finding ways to defuse her stress, Betty’s caregiver was able to turn what could have been a very stressful day for Betty into just another day.