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Offering Choices When Giving Care for Alzheimer's

Posted by Administrator on 11/6/2012
No, I am not going to talk about election voting choices today - there is plenty of that happening in mainstream media. No matter what side of the fence you are on, however, we all acknowledge the freedom we have to make our own choice, no matter what the topic or issue at hand. What a right and privilege! Do you have that feeling of satisfaction and independence when you get to make a choice that feels right to you? I know I do. So how does this change for a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia? It changes slightly but not completely. Individuals with dementia may get overwhelmed by too many choices. For instance, when ordering from a menu at a restaurant. One option would be just to order something for the person. But then that 'choice' and the feelings that come with it would not occur. That can make the person feel incompetent, sad, and/or dependent - even if the person cannot voice that this is how they are feeling. So what is the solution? Help the person by narrowing the choices. Maybe give 3 choices or even just 2 choices. Showing them the choices (i.e. pictures on the menu) can help even more. People at a lower level of dementia may not be able to make the choice. That is okay. Just say, "how about we try this first", and then make the decision for them. Then watch the person for positive signs regarding the choice. If it does not seem to be a good choice, then ask "should we try this instead?" and try something else. Although the person is not actually choosing at this level, you are still involving them in the process of choosing by verbally guiding them, watching how they respond, and adjusting accordingly. When you provide care for Alzheimer's, help the person retain their dignity by involving the person in choosing, in whatever adapted way needed.
 
See the MindStart Word Search books for products that offer multiple levels of difficulty (or choices) all in the same book!

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3 Comments

MindStart
Date: 11/6/2012
Ethelle, thanks for the comment. This blog post is not about having a person with Alzheimer's vote in an election. It is about allowing them to help being in the process of making a choice in anyway that they can. This might be choosing a snack from 1 of 2 options. Or, in the case of later dementia, it might be the person non-verbally showing their preference (or non-preference) of an activity or task. If the caregiver picks up on how the person is responding, we are honoring the non-verbal choice the person has made. . The intent was to educate on adapted ways to involve the person in choices that are made, no matter what stage of dementia. This was not intended to extend to true election voting, but rather ‘voting’ or ‘choosing’ a snack, what sweater to wear, etc. My apologies if this message was not clear.
Ethelle Lord, DM
Date: 11/6/2012
A person who is diagnosed with a type of Alzheimer's or other dementias is really not in a position to vote. By the time such a diagnosis is made, it has been several years in the making. The first two functions to be noticeably affected is reason and judgment. It takes both of these faculties to be able to cast a vote. The freedom to make a choice and being able to make a choice freely are too different things. The author above is not making that basic distinction which is needed here in order
Linda Bailey
Date: 11/8/2012
I have found that almost anyone stage six or below on the GDS can make a yes-no,(verbal) or this - that ( physical) choice. One of the best ways to preserve a person's dignity is to ask their preference whenever possible.

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