All too often loved ones of people with Alzheimer's are in denial. Hence they spend their time trying to get the person to 'act normal.' Trying to get them to remember and do things they will never be able to remember or do. This only leads to anger and frustration for the visitor and often for the person with Alzheimer's as well.
When relating to a person with Alzheimer's there are many guidelines to follow. I'm going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: 1) Don't tell them they are wrong about something, 2) Don't argue with them, 3) Don't ask if they remember something, 4) Don't remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and 5) Don't bring up topics that may upset them.
I'm talking here about the dreaded "N" word -- nursing home. I'm talking about placing your loved one with Alzheimer's in a care facility. Virtually no one wants to do it and few if any people want to go. This will be one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching decisions you, as an Alzheimer's caregiver, will ever have to make.
There is no substitute for actual experiencing, or as close to it as we can get. Only then can we feel from the heart, the extent of what our loved one may be going through. This is much more powerful than just reading about it. With its built-in readiness, caring from the heart is a lot lighter on us and more likely to sustain us in the long run.
Our physician training system currently increases suffering for patients like me and the millions of community caregivers who help us. It raises healthcare costs and adds significantly to physician burn-out because we neither select for empathy nor prepare future doctors to understand how patients work, live, and die.