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"Ask a Nurse" - Alzheimer's Concern

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Question: My mother has Alzheimer's disease, and she is experiencing early and mid-stages of forgetfulness, disorientation, and all the rest of it. She is very stubborn in acknowledging that any of these problems are arising, and tends to bury them in platitudes and niceties. How do we get Mom to be proactive in her own care?
-Elliott

Answer: Dear Elliott,

Gently remind her that there is a physical reason for her memory problems and, fortunately, there is treatment for the disease. Although the treatment won’t cure the disease, it can slow down the progression and reduce the symptoms. Outline her abilities and strengths. Tell her that your main concerns are for her safety and well-being. Assure her that her disease does not define her and that her symptoms are not who she is. Let her know that you don’t consider her disease a source of shame or embarrassment. Attend an Alzheimer’s support group. If you know of others in the community who are being treated and have maintained a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle, find out if they would be willing to speak with your mother about her doubts and fears - when she is able to acknowledge them. Don’t try to impose, confront or manipulate and don’t allow yourself to be imposed upon and manipulated. Celebrate the things she can do and allow her the dignity to make her own mistakes.

-Diane RN - Qualicare

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