Daniel C. Potts, M.D., an award-winning neurologist, author, educator, and advocate for those with dementia, along with Ellen Woodward Potts are authors of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver (Dementia Dynamics LLC, 2011). The book presents information the Potts wish they had possessed earlier on in their journey caring for Daniel’s father Lester.
According to Daniel and Ellen Potts, “Kind, validating, respectful caregiving is the most precious gift you can bestow upon a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia.” (http://bit.ly/qDYRaZ). Following are five key principles to help caregivers survive and thrive while caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s:
1. LISTEN with all your senses. Your loved one may not be able to speak with words.
2. LEARN to value the person’s remaining talents and to find new ones. Often, the expressive arts (music, art, poetry, dance, reminiscence, etc.) can help the person connect when verbal language is failing.
3. LIVE in their world. The person cannot come back into reality, so there is no reason to argue, no matter how bizarre the statements. Don’t correct! Redirect!
4. LOVE the person in the now and love yourself. Grieving the person he was is natural, but don’t let it keep you from loving who he is now. Love and forgive yourself. Understand that it is impossible to live up to your own standards.
5. LAUGH with your loved one! It will keep you sane.