Olympic Solutions to Alzheimer’s Caregiving
At face value the Olympics may seem as far removed from Alzheimer’s and caregiving as we can get. Yet, look a little closer, and it’s clear that Paralympic principles adhere to getting the best out of people by focusing on ability rather than disability. So, can the Olympics really say anything to us at OurAlzheimer’s? I’ve taken a closer look and think we could do a lot worse than apply some these principles to care. Why? Well why not? Why shouldn’t we consider Olympic solutions to one of the biggest challenges currently on the planet?
So, what would be involved in the development of a model of care based on the fundamental principles of respect, social responsibility and ethics? Olympic principles can guide us through preparation, improving our knowledge, practicing, seeing a result.
Mostly we like to know what to expect. Diseases and surprise do not always go together when chronic debilitating illnesses are involved. Preparing yourself for caregiving can make the journey easier and can help to create a more harmonious and fuller life.
To some extent you can prepare for changes in their personality and behavior. You can prepare for an increase in the length of time they remain safe by adapting their home by ‘childproofing’ with fire and smoke alarms, removing weapons and sharp objects, a safe water heater, gates locked and yards made safe. People with moderate Alzheimer’s should stop driving and other sources of transportation arranged. There is a lot to prepare to increase mobility and maintain their skills for as long as possible.
Good financial planning, putting legal matters such as a will and directives, durable power of attorney in place, having awareness of health and insurance policies all help manage the Alzheimer’s journey better.
Increase your Knowledge
Knowledge is power, that’s a fact. Find out about Alzheimer’s and what caregiver can do. Teamwork and support are important. This is a marathon and you’ll need others around you to share the workload.
Practice and build up your caregiver skills:
- Find out what works in which situations but be adaptive and flexible if it’s not working.
- Create a routine of activities and care as this helps someone with Alzheimer’s feel safe and secure.
- Treat the person with respect and as you would want to be treated.
- Maximise their independence to maintain their skills and so they feel valued as a member of your family.
- Remember how they were, that they did not choose their disease and dependence.
The Olympic charter says it seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and sets out some fundamental universal ethical principles. The preservation of human dignity is one of the most important principles that we can apply to caregiving. Late at night, dealing with challenging behavior or seeing to their most basic needs when we are tired and physically drained, can test us beyond that which we thought possible but it is also tremendously rewarding
Winning is not really an option with Alzheimer’s, it is the taking part in their care. At most we do the best we can. We get huge rewards through their happiness, knowing we are doing what is right thing. We endure, we persevere and in that way we triumph.