1.  What can l do to get my loved one to bathe?

2.  Will Medicaid pay for someone with Alzheimer's disease?

3.  How do I take the car keys away from the person and how do I know when it's time to do this?

4.  Who can I get to come into the home to stay with the person?

5.  Should I tell the person the diagnosis is Alzheimer's disease?

6.  Are the emotions of guilt and anger I am feeling normal?

7.  When is the best time to put someone in a supervised living situation, such as a Personal Care Home or Nursing Home? 

8.  How do I control the person's outburst of anger and rage?

9.  Why does the person with Alzheimer's disease ask the same question over and over and how do I deal with it?

10.  What can I do when my siblings won't accept the disease and won't agree on what I want to do to help my relative?

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TOP 10 QUESTIONS ASKED BY ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION HELPLINE CALLERS

1.  What can l do to get my loved one to bathe?

A.  This problem is very typical for those who are diagnosed with dementia. There may be no real cause for the resistance, but try to determine if there is. For instance, is the water too hot or too cold? Look at environmental causes, can they locate the bathroom? Is the room too cold? Is the water too deep? Is the person sensitive to having others in the room or are they afraid to get their head wet? Try to adapt the room before hand. Be prepared by having the needed clothing items, shampoo and water ready and tested before getting the person to enter the room.

B.  Be creative in your approach. For example, "it's time for your spa, will you walk with me?" (Then guide them to the door). Be directive in your approach. For example "Your bath is ready" or "it's time for your bath."

C.  Alternatives work very well. For example, sponge baths in their room, peaceful music to relax them, liquid soap instead of bar soap, sing while bathing or sing while on the way to the bathroom.  Make it fun!

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2.  Will Medicaid pay for someone with Alzheimer's disease?

A.   No, not unless other diagnoses are present which cause a health or safety risk.

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3.  How do I take the car keys away from the person, and how do I know when it's time to do this?

A.  Watch for warning signs, such as forgetting how to get to familiar places, not following safety signs, poor judgment, unsafe driving, speed not right for the conditions, easily confused or an accident.

B.  If an accident occurs, take the keys away immediately. Acknowledge the loss with the person, get his or her doctor involved to help make the decision. Be firm, avoid arguments and lengthy discussions. Solicit the support of others to reinforce the decision and/or have the physician write a letter to the state requesting that the license be revoked.

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4.  Who can I get to come into the home to stay with the person?

A.  Home health agencies will come to your home to help in a variety of areas such as bathing, administering medications and doing activities with the person. Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance does not usually cover these types of services. There is also usually a fee associated with the services. Another option is contacting local churches, neighbors and other family members. The Alzheimer's Association in your area will have a complete list of agencies and resources.

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5.  Should I tell the person the diagnosis is Alzheimer's disease?

A.  The ultimate decision to inform or not to inform the person rests with the family. Some things to remember are to respect the person's right to know what is wrong yet be sensitive to their feelings, emotional state and ability to remember what has been told to them.  The person may suspect something, and without an explanation he or she may expect the worst. The person may feel relieved to know what is wrong with them and learn it's a physical illness. An informed person may want to participate in medical, legal, financial, and personal planning for the future. Rely on professional experience, involve the physician.  Reassure the person and treat them as an adult, don't down play the disease and diagnosis.

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6.  Are the emotions of guilt and anger I am feeling normal?

A.  These are very normal feelings. Your local Alzheimer's Association can direct you to support groups where you can talk about these feelings and learn that you are not alone.

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7.  When is the best time to put someone in a supervised living situation, such as a Personal Care Home or Nursing Home? 

A.  There is no right or wrong time to make this move.  Safety is the most important area to evaluate. Is this person safe in their current living arrangement?  The next thing to remember is your health. Can you continue to care for the person without sacrificing your physical, mental, emotional and financial well being?  Prior to placement, investigate what types of residences are located in your area. The Alzheimer's Association is a good resource in this area. Don't wait until there has been a crisis to start looking.

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8.  How do I control the person's outburst of anger and rage?

A.  Try to identify the immediate cause. Listen and go with the flow. Don't power struggle with the person even if what they say is wrong.  Don't try to control, try to manage the behavior. Focus on their feelings, not facts. Avoid getting angry or upset.  Be positive and reassuring.  Speak slowly with a soft tone of voice. Treat them like the adults they are. Limit distractions and noise levels. Offer rest periods in the afternoons, (but not all day). Get the person involved in activities. Change the focus to another activity especially if the prior situation or activity caused the agitation. Accept the behavior as a reality of the disease. Always, always, listen to them even if they are hard to understand. Listen to their body language and facial expressions. If speech problems exist, offer choices to solve the problem.

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9.  Why does the person with Alzheimer's disease ask the same question over and over, and how do I deal with it?

A.  Repetitive actions are often harmless for the diagnosed person but can he very frustrating for the caregiver. Remember that the disease causes this behavior. People with dementia have no short-term memory, so they do not remember what they asked you just minutes before.

B.  Respond to the emotion, not the behavior. For example, if the person is repeatedly asking if it is time to go, talk about where they want to go instead of just saying no it is not time yet.  This sometimes will cause the question to not be asked as frequently. Stay calm and patient. Take frequent breaks if you can. Give the person a task to complete. Household chores, with supervision such as dusting (do not use chemicals, these can he unsafe), or sweeping and folding clothes can be very good activities for the person. Answer the question even if you have to repeat it several times.

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10.  What can I do when my siblings won't accept the disease and won't agree on what I want to do to help my relative?  

A.   There are several stages of adjustment when coping with Alzheimer's disease. They are denial, over-involvement, anger, guilt and acceptance. Family members will move through these stages at different rates. Since it can be frustrating for a sibling that has begun to accept the disease to understand when others are still in denial, it is important for family members to communicate with one another and express their feelings and concerns and learn to compromise.  This will be the only way a family can make the best possible decision for the person with the disease. As a family member, educate yourself about the disease. Having flexibility, patience and understanding all play key roles in helping your family cope with the disease. If a compromise cannot be reached, professional assistance such as family counseling may offer relief.  Get the physician involved. They may be able to write a letter to the other family member. Get involved in a support group. These are helpful in learning what other families in the same situation have done.

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About this page: Frequently asked questions by family and loved ones regarding Alzheimer's disease, by the Barton House, an Alzheimer's care facility located in Sugar Land, Texas.
 2229 Williams Trace Blvd.   |   Sugar Land, TX 77478   |   (281) 313-2500

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