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Departments » Aging and Disability Resource Center
Caregiving for Dementia

How to Help Your Loved One... and Stay Strong Yourself

Let's face it. Taking care of someone with dementia can be difficult. You want to help your loved one and do the best job that you can. But sometimes it becomes overwhelming, stressful, frustrating, tiring, and even hopeless. The staff at ADRC of Brown County are here to help you deal with the struggles, plus find the joys and benefits of providing care.

You do not have to be on this journey alone...there is hope.

On-Line Caregiver Guide
Website with short videos on various topics to give you answers to questions that come up in your caring journey.

Read below for suggestions you can use right now:

Changes in Expression and Behavior

All behavior is a form of expression. Caregivers will find one of the most difficult things about caregiving is handling the new expressions their loved one develops through the stages of the disease. The ADRC is here to help every step of the way. Expressions like yelling, pacing, wanting to go "home", and swearing can happen as the result of the person with dementia having more difficult expressing wants, needs, and feelings. Look for meaning behind the behavior to help meet your loved one's needs, plus reduce stressful situations:
  1. Examine the expression. What is it? Is the behavior harmful? Could it be caused by pain, illness, hunger/thirst, loneliness, boredom, a complicated task, overstimulation, frustration, or something else?
  2. Explore potential solutions. Are your loved one's needs being met? Could the environment be causing the expression (too loud, too much visual stimulation, glare on the floor, confusing patterns, or temperature)?
  3. Try different responses. Did your response help? Do you need to explore potential causes again?
  4. Validate feelings. Acknowledge how your loved one is feeling ("I can see you're angry", "I know you want to go home", "I would feel upset too if__"). It is more difficult to continue to be upset with someone who understands and is working with you. People with dementia need to feel understood in a world that is difficult to communiate in.

Many times what you consider "challenging" can actually be prevented by you. Here's how:

Instead of thinking: "She's confused...she has dementia."
Think: "I am confused...I don't know what she's trying to tell me."

Instead of thinking: "How can I control this person?"
Think: "How can I accommodate this person?"

On-line Resources and Communication Strategies
Click the link about or here: On-line Caregiver Resources and Communication Strategies for helpful information you can put into practice right away to improve communication and reduce frustration.

For more information on how you can prevent challenging situations as a caregiver, visit:
  • Teepa Snow's website - As a renowned expert on caring for persons with dementia, Teepa provides basic, helpful tips for caregivers to help turn the caregiving experience into a positive and healthy one for both the loved one and caregiver. Teepa Snow's DVDs are available for free check-out at the ADRC Resource Room (920-448-4300).
  • Alzheimer's Association website - Many resources are available that help caregivers struggling with common expressions. Call the Helpline 24 hours a day to get assistance with any questions & concerns (800-272-3900).

The Key to Good Communication

Practice some of these tips to have a positive caregiving relationship with your loved one:
  1. Speak slow and clear, with a gentle and relaxed voice.
  2. Always approach from the front and identify yourself.
  3. Keep good eye contact.
  4. Break instructions down into small & simple steps, one at a time.
  5. Ask yes/no questions. Instead of "What would you like to drink?", ask "Would you like coffee?".
  6. Be specific. Instead of "here it is", use "here is your coat".
  7. Avoid correcting, quizzing, or teaching.
  8. Do not take behaviors, feelings, or responses personally.

What About Wandering?

On average, about 60% of people with dementia will wander at some point in their disease. Sadly, about 50% of people who wander will die if not found in 24 hours.

Every. Single. Person. can change this statistic.

Sign-up to receive Silver Alerts. This state-run program helps find missing adults with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or other permanent cognitive impairments by sending alerts to residents across the state of Wisconsin. Receive alerts via email, cell phone text, and fax. Visit the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network website to sign-up today.

Here are some helpful ways to plan ahead to reduce/prevent wandering:
  1. Try to identify the time of day your loved one wanders most. Plan a supervised activity for that time period.
  2. Plan ahead- alert neighbors that your loved one wanders so they can be on the lookout.
  3. Keep a list of places your loved one may go (past jobs, stores, restaurants, church).
  4. Always have a recent photo in electronic & paper form. Know the license plate number and vehicle description if your loved one is still driving. This is what law enforcement will ask for if your loved one cannot be found.
  5. Know which hand is the dominant hand of your loved one. S/he is more likely to make turns in that direction when confused and unsure where to go.
  6. Talk to a staff person at the ADRC of Brown County (920-448-4300) about emergency response systems designed especially for people with dementia.*
*Find additional information on emergency response systems through the Alzheimer's Association by visiting the Alzheimer's Association website.

Let the Professionals Help...Get Connected

In 2013, Americans provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias (ACT on Alzheimer's - Preparing Minnesota for Alzheimer's). Caregivers know that family togetherness and the satisfaction of helping loved ones can make this journey worthwhile. Along with these positive feelings come high levels of stress, changes in sleep and emotions, and other health problems.

Do not wait to get help if you are a caregiver. Contact the ADRC of Brown County (920-448-4300) today.

AT Home with Dementia

The ADRC of Brown County, Curative Connections, and Options for Independent Living partner to bring this program to Brown County. Assistive technology (also known as adaptive medical equipment) can help make living at home easier and safer for both you & your loved one. Trained specialists bring items to your loved one's home in order to figure out what works best, oftentimes finding low-cost solutions. How can this help you as a caregiver?

-Caregivers increased their confidence levels in their ability to care for their loved one from 35% prior to the assessment to 77% after the assessment.
-80% of caregivers said the burden of their safety concerns in the home was relieved with this program.
-78% of caregivers felt that had greater support in their role after working with the specialists.

Call today for information or to set-up an appointment (920-593-3521). Appointments are free of charge.

Caregiving with Dementia Training

Everyday brings a new challenge when you are caring for someone with dementia. Make your life as a caregiver easier by learning new strategies to make caregiving less stressful and more enjoyable. Consider taking some of these online courses, done at a time most convenient for you, right from the comfort of your own home or that of your loved one.
  • Dementia Training for Family & Friends - This 3-hour long course, designed by the UW-Oshkosh Center for Career Development & Employability Training and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Divison of Long-Term Care, will help you learn how to provide care specific to those with dementia. Cost: $25.
  • Alzheimer's Association Caregiving Trainings - "Caregiving does not come with an instruction manual". Offered in a variety of formats, time frames, and costs (ranging from free to about $50), these courses, workshops, and certifications can help you be the best caregiver possible.
To find more resources and information on general caregiving, follow this link to the ADRC website page just for caregivers.

Forms require Acrobat Reader. Click the button to download the latest version FREE.

  • On-line Caregiver Guide
    On-line resources for families caring for someone with memory loss or dementia. Website with short videos on various topics that give caregivers answers to questions that come up in their caring journey.

  • AT Home with Dementia
    Find the adaptive medical equipment you or your loved one with dementia need. Trained experts can do home assessments at no cost to you, commonly suggesting low-cost options to make living in your own home safer. Program provided by a combined grant partnership with the ADRC of Brown County, Curative Connections, and Options for Independent Living.

  • Mug Club for Caregivers
    Join this monthly support group just for caregivers! Sponsored by the Brown County Caregiver Coalition, the group meets the second Tuesday of every month at the ADRC of Brown County.

  • Powerful Tools for Caregivers Flyer
    This six-week class offered at the ADRC focuses on you as the caregiver. Learn how to take care of yourself and reduce your personal stress so you can be the best caregiver possible to your loved one. Learn about the latest class session dates & times on the Caregiver page of our website.

  • Alzheimer's & Related Dementia Support Groups in Brown County
    A listing of caregiver support groups affiliated with the Alzheimer's Association in Brown County.

  • Dementia Handbook
    This handbook, published by the ADRC of Brown County, is loaded with information and resources to guide you through the journey of dementia. It will be helpful if you are a caregiver, professional, or person who has been diagnosed with demenita.

  • Home Safety for People with Alzheimer's Disease
    Learn how to improve home safety if you provide in-home care to someone with Alzheimer's disease. Booklet published by the National Institute on Aging.

  • Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease
    With this easy-to-use guide from the National Institute on Aging, learn how to cope with the changes and challenges that come with caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease.

  • Caregiving with Dementia- Teepa Snow
    Teepa Snow is regarded as a leading educator on dementia, taking an approach to care that focuses on changing the caregiver's behaviors in order to have a more positive relationship with the person with dementia. Visit this link to her website, or check-out her materials at the ADRC.

  • Brown County Memory Cafe Flyer
    All the information you need to know about the montly Brown County Memory Cafe, a fun & comfortable environment for those with early stage memory loss and their loved ones.
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