Living with anyone, whether it’s a spouse, parent, or friend is typically packed with challenges as we strive to coexist in harmony. But when that roommate is experiencing cognitive challenges from Alzheimer’s or another dementia, finding harmony can be even more challenging.

The person you’ve known to have unique personality traits, behaviors, and abilities changes. These transformations can be quite confusing, frustrating, and depressing even for someone trained in Alzheimer’s care.

There are some key things to remember that will make it a better experience for both you and your loved one – the care partners.

Accept

Fighting the disease and trying to fix your loved one will only lead to frustration and anger for both of you. You will be unhappy they are not meeting your expectations. They will feel embarrassed and unhappy as they feel they’ve failed in your eyes, and theirs.

By accepting that the disease is not fixable and that it is the cause of your loved one’s changes, you will be empowered to approach it with a better perspective.

Adapt

This new perspective will open your mind to help you find ways to adapt your approach, routines, and home environment to better assist the person with Alzheimer’s.

As the disease progresses, change will be a constant element of your living arrangement. Learning techniques to cope with new and ever changing challenges should be part of your ongoing educational process.

Educate

Nobody shows up at your door with a training manual offering to teach you about Alzheimer’s. You must continually self educate as you work to protect the well-being of both you and your loved one.

Setting aside time to learn is vital and you must find a resource you can trust and that meets your learning style. That might be through videos, listening to audio files, or good ‘ole reading.

Other caregivers are often the best source of quality information. Typically, you will find people who have “been there, done that,” and their experiences are invaluable.

Support

These other caregivers, whether you meet them in person or in an online group, will also provide you with an incredible amount of emotional support, strength, and love.

They will also have great suggestions on how to get other types of support including general help around your house, or in-home care for your loved one.

Attempting to care for a loved one with advancing Alzheimer’s at home without any help, is a recipe for a home environment in disarray. It’s very important that you start creating a system of support as early as possible, so the home can be a harmonious and enriching environment.

Enrich

Everyone, including both care partners, has a need to feel purposeful and joyful. You want to Identify and adapting activities that create meaningful engagement. This will allow your loved one to be successful while maintaining their dignity, and is essential to their well-being, and yours.

Proper enrichment helps reduce behavioral symptoms, and helps avoid the desire to use medications which dull the senses, along with other negative consequences.

To identify these activities, you should start by asking your loved one what they want to do. You can also think about what makes them happy. From gardening, helping prepare dinner to doing projects together, it’s up to you to discover and adapt.

Living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia is not easy for either care partner. You must listen to their needs with your ears, eyes, and heart. And by addressing these areas of need, the home can be a more harmonious and enriching environment for all.

Are you sharing a home with Alzheimer’s or another dementia? We’d love to hear your strategies to maintaining harmony and happiness. Please join the conversation.

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