One of my favorite Alzheimer’s resources is The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care, along with other books in the Best Friends series, including Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities, Volume One and Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities, Volume Two. I loved these books because the focus is on learning about people with Alzheimer’s, their histories and preferences, and then designing a care plan specifically for them. You may be in the best position to provide information about your parent, and reading this book will jog your memory. Even tiny details like knowing whether your parent prefers to sleep under a blanket or not will help your parent be more comfortable, and you must become both your parent’s external memory and his or her advocate. The Best Friends Approach will assist you in that process, and the activity books include fun ideas for people with all stages of dementia. I particularly appreciated these activity books because they intentionally included activities more typical for male interests, which many other activity books overlook.
Your parent with Alzheimer’s will likely have a hospital stay at some point, and there are three critical steps you need to take:
- Let hospital staff know your parents has Alzheimer’s
- Get your parents’ advance directive on file and be sure everyone is clear about its meaning
- Make the hospital room as familiar as you can
Watch this video for more on advance directives and understanding your parent’s wishes.
Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers by Paula Spencer Scott (2014)
Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers appealed to me largely because I found it at a time when I wasn’t sure I would survive my father’s illness. It offers bite-sized tips and stories with support and instruction, making it easy to read in short bits of time. I also appreciated the emphasis on addressing stress and increasing quality of life for both the person with Alzheimer’s and those caring for him. The book teaches a problem-solving framework that will support you throughout your caregiving.
A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier by Callone, Kudlacek, Vasiloff, Manternach, and Brumback (2006)
I highlighted A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease and read back through my highlights periodically to refresh my own memory. Logically organized, you’ll find it worthwhile to read through the book and then make your own lists of practices to adopt. It’s easy to dip in and out, which makes reading it feasible even if you only have a couple of minutes at a time.
When you’re an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you may find it difficult to escape for rest and relaxation. But you’ve got to get refreshment on a regular basis, or you’ll wear yourself out. I spent time in the pool almost everyday because that restores me. Watch today’s video and discover where you can go to renew your energy and your perspective, and then go there.
When I found Early Stages, my father had progressed through the stages it addresses. But the lessons are useful even later in the disease because it’s important to understand the progression. It won’t carry you into the depths of caring for your loved one who has the disease, but it will give you a necessary foundation, and if your parent is in the early stages of the disease, this is a must-read book.
I both loved and hated Creating Moments of Joy. If you’re struggling, it may seem unrealistic to imagine moments of joy. However, this book really does offer a blueprint for how you can create joy through understanding. Numerous examples will help you to apply the book’s ideas to your parent. Read it when you’re at neutral or even in a positive frame of mind — but read it.