5 Ways to Help a Senior with Alzheimer’s Maintain Their Dignity

December 24, 2018

Learn how to help a senior with dementia maintain their dignity and quality of life.

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, can be challenging. Learn how to help a senior with dementia maintain their dignity and quality of life.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that slowly robs people of their abilities. It’s sometimes referred to as “the long goodbye.” For spouses, adult children, and grandchildren, it is difficult to watch a loved one slip further and further away.

One challenge for families, as the disease progresses, is how to shelter an aging family member from a loss of dignity. As memory and communication skills become impaired, protecting an adult with Alzheimer’s becomes more difficult.

There are steps a family member can take to help a senior maintain his or her dignity and quality of life. Here are just a few.

5 Ways to Protect the Dignity of an Adult with Alzheimer’s

  1. Kind words still matter: When seniors lose their ability to verbally communicate, it might be easy to overlook how meaningful your words can still be to them. Though they may be unable to respond with words, it doesn’t mean you should stop saying phrases like “I love you” or “Good morning!” The kindness and love in your voice can help an aging family member feel safe and secure during this difficult time.
  2. Be mindful of troubling symptoms: Some forms of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, can cause a senior to hallucinate. These hallucinations can be frightening and uncomfortable for them to experience and for you to witness. Hold their hand and talk softly to them when they are scared.
  3. Protect their privacy during personal care: If your loved one requires help with bathing and dressing, take extra steps to protect their privacy. While they may be unable to express it, they may feel embarrassed about needing assistance with personal care. Have a bathrobe waiting for them when they step out of the shower. Make casual conversation to distract them while dressing. Keep blinds and doors closed to protect their modesty.
  4. Celebrate life milestones: It might not seem worth the effort to celebrate birthdays and other milestones as your loved one’s disease progresses. This is especially true if you feel overwhelmed with the demands of caregiving. Try to make time anyway. While your loved one may not understand what is being celebrated, they will likely enjoy the companionship and smiling faces around them.
  5. Protect their quality of life: Alzheimer’s and closely related forms of dementia often cause seniors to withdraw and spend more time alone. Sometimes they may feel embarrassed at not understanding the conversations around them. At other times, they may feel overwhelmed by sadness. Plan activities that help seniors feel empowered and create environments that support their success. Try to do all you can to help them live their best quality of life.

It can be difficult to remain positive as you watch a loved one battle Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. We hope these tips help!

Memory Care Services at Legacy Senior Living

If you are struggling to manage the care of a senior loved one who has dementia, we can help. The Harbor, our memory care program, was designed to allow adults with memory loss an opportunity to live their best quality of life.

From specially-trained caregivers to purposeful day programming, no detail is overlooked. We invite you to schedule a private tour at your convenience to learn more!