Care Mountain home care has been providing caregivers for Alzheimer’s home care to Dallas, Texas area families since 2004. We are a six time recipient of The Outstanding Caregiver of the Year Award from The Greater Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This high quality achievement award for outstanding Dallas area Alzheimer’s home care is a highly competitive and coveted award that very few Dallas Fort Worth home care agencies ever receive. The suggestions and ideas in this article will be based upon these years of experience.
My spouse who has Alzheimer’s disease gets very agitated with me and becomes uncooperative, is something we hear often from families seeking care at home for someone with Alzheimer’s disease in Frisco, TX and surrounding Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex cities. Often times the spouse calling us is at the point of extreme exhaustion, and at that moment the best help I seem to be is as a good listener.
The first goal in coping with the agitation from someone with Alzheimer’s disease, is understanding the source/trigger and explaining it in a way that it can be managed. As a home care provider for Alzheimer’s disease for the last 30+ years, I have seen many, many sources and triggers to heightened levels of agitation. In situations involving couples, the most common trigger or source of the agitation though, is the other person – the caregiver partner without the disease. The focus of this article will be on this source/trigger.
First of all, it is important to understand that a person with Alzheimer’s disease usually GAINS a heightened awareness and sensitivity to their immediate surroundings. Therefore, they can be expected to more aware of and sensitive to the mood you are in. In other words, your mood likely sets their tone. And even in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one can sense whom around him/her truly cares and loves them.
Why are you a cause of agitation for your spouse with Alzheimer’s disease? It often starts with not fully accepting your spouse’s Alzheimer’s disease and its current reality in your lives. Many times I see spouses explain away the symptoms of this disease as something else, and therefore are coping with what does not really exist. She/he knows what she/he is doing and just wants to be difficult today, is a common thought expressed. Accepting the symptoms as part of this disease is a good first step to effectively cope with it.
Another way your lack of full acceptance contributes to their agitation is when you wish or won’t give up on having things the way they were. I purposely used the words “give up”, because many spouses feel like they are just giving up on their love one when they accept the progressive prognosis of this disease. For nearly five years we helped Tom provide for his wife at home care for Alzheimer’s disease in Frisco, TX. One day out of deep despair and frustration he called me over to his home for help. He said had become very frustrated with his wife’s behavior, which caused them to argue a lot and her to become very agitated. He explained one of his biggest frustrations with her was when he would sit in front of the computer to do some serious work, and she would then constantly interrupt him with the same questions. When asked how often this happened, he said about every 45 minutes while he was working, and would usually last about two or three minutes each. I then asked why this bothered him so much, and he immediately propped up as to eagerly say what was on his mind, but nothing came out. Tom realized this had no impact on his work. I mentioned to him that if I started my day not expecting any interruptions, then I would certainly become increasingly frustrated as they accumulated.
I say this with the greatest due respect, but the biggest reason you are likely a source of agitation in your spouse is that your are not setting and respecting your own healthy limits. Are you getting adequate quality sleep? Are you getting time away for personal enjoyment without feeling guilty about it? Do you have others helping you with your spouse’s care needs? If you answered no to any of these, chances are you are often beyond your healthy limits with the resultant added stress and diminished coping skills contributing to your spouses agitation.
Another way you may unknowingly be a source of agitation to your spouse is by continuing to stick to the same approach to their care far beyond its effectiveness. Alzheimer’s disease progresses, and as it does our methods and strategies of care will need to adjust for a continued favorable outcome. Deciding when to make these changes is very difficult when living with someone having this disease, as it is easier to see the need for change when you witness a significant decline, versus the very subtle changes that often occur over a longer period of time with Alzheimer’s disease.
As mentioned earlier there are many other triggers and sources of agitation for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some other good sources to gather further information in this area: UT Southwestern Division of Geriatric Care, Baylor Geriatrics Center, Texas Alzheimer’s & Memory Disorders, Medical City of Plan Geriatrics Group, Internal Medicine Associates of Plano, Baylor Senior Health Center Garland, Haven Behavioral Hospital of Frisco and the Alzheimer’s Association.CLICK HERE FOR FAQ
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