Sometimes, when you feel that life and its complications are completely out of control, you just want some plain, uncomplicated advice. Not explanations, background or analysis — just simple suggestions for what to do next.
That seems to be the goal of “A Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia: Using Activities and Other Strategies to Prevent, Reduce and Manage Behavioral Symptoms.” It’s a relatively brief, large-format paperback written by Laura N. Gitlin, director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and Catherine Verrier Piersol, clinical director of Jefferson Elder Care at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Though some of its introductory language uses the jargon of the health-care world, most of the book consists of brief, straightforward advice on managing a loved one whose brain has stopped keeping up with the demands of daily life.
Some examples (note that these are taken from different parts of the book, dealing with people at different stages of dementia):
●Use “a one-step verbal command”: Turn on the water. Pick up your toothbrush.
●Limit clothing choices, and lay the clothes out in the order that the person with dementia will put them on.
●Present food items one at a time. Use a white plate to eliminate distractions from patterns on dishware.
●Watch for signs of frustration, such as fidgeting, restlessness and loud talking. Consider staying at arm’s length; if you come too close, the person may feel threatened, become angry or strike out.
The authors address a wide range of situations, including incontinence, inappropriate sexual behavior and repetitive questions. They say their strategies have been used in both research and practice, and have been found helpful.