Challenges for Caregivers

Caregiver Burnout:

Caregiver burnout presents as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. This often times coincides with an attitude change in the caregiver, from a caring/positive person to an apathetic/negative person as a result of being overwhelmed by physical, financial, and/or time requirements.

Symptoms of Caregiver burnout includes but are not limited to the following:

  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight (gain/loss)
  • More frequent health problems
  • Constantly feeling exhausted
  • Feeling hopeless/helpless

Therapeutic Lying “Fiblets”:

Therapeutic lying is the practice of telling a “white lie” to a person living with Dementia with the express goal of reassurance, reducing anxiety, agitation or distress, and protecting their self-esteem. For all intensive purposes it is the omission of facts, with no attempts to correct the inaccuracy of the person’s statement and “playing along” in the person’s current reality.

  • An example of Therapeutic lying would be, telling a person living with Dementia that a paid caregiver is coming to their home for the benefit of their spouse. This helps the person living with Dementia maintain their pride, reduces anxiety/agitation/distress.


Those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias often experience increased episodes of disorientation, anxiety, agitation, aggression, wandering, pacing, and confusion consistently later in the day (i.e., late afternoon, in the evening, and/or at night).

Behaviors commonly associated with sundowning include but are not limited to the following:

  • Becoming demanding/aggressive
  • Wandering/Pacing
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Experiencing delusions and hallucinations
  • Attempting to leave home/facility

Troubling Behaviors:

Alzheimer’s disease and related  dementias can bring people to act in very different and unpredictable ways. These behaviors often times leads to misunderstanding, frustration and uneasiness, especially between the person living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias and the caregiver (i.e., family/staff). Of note, It’s essential to understand that the person living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias is not doing these behaviors purposefully. These behaviors can be and often are a form of communication.

Some examples of these troubling behaviors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Agitation/Aggression
  • Wandering
  • Suspicion/Paranoia
  • Perseveration
  • Sundowning
  • Sleep issues
  • Bathing
  • Eating
  • Sexual behaviors

Communicating with those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias:

Communicating with an individual who is living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias can oftentimes be challenging. Due to it being a progressive illness, as time goes on it will affect the individual’s capacity to recall and comprehend simple everyday information. Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias will slowly begin to affect the individual’s ability to communicate effectively.

Techniques to encouraging an individual living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias to communicate includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Speak slowly, gently, and clearly
  • Be face-to-face with individual, make eye contact
  • Utilize short familiar words and short simple sentences
  • Allow extra time for the individual to respond
  • Give one directive/instruction (breakdown tasks) or ask one simple question at a time
  • Give only positive directives
  • Do not argue with person

Visual Issues:

Those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementias can have difficulties with vision and perception which in turn causes them to misunderstand the world. This impairment in vision and perception can cause behavioral problems and potentially safety risks.

Common visual deficits include but are not limited to the following:

  • Motion blindness – Inability to see moving objects
  • Depth perception – Objects look flat
  • Color perception – Difficulty seeing colors in the blue-violet spectrum
  • Contrast sensitivity – Inability to see the differences between objects if they are the same color

Behavior in Dementia as a form of communication:

The Cambridge dictionary defines communication as the process of exchanging information and the expression of feelings that result in understanding. Communication comes in two basic types which include verbal (Oral/written) and non-verbal (body language, signs/symbols, colors, gestures) communications. During the progression of the disease, those living with Dementia often times lose the ability to speak. However, they are able to maintain communication in other ways, such as through body language, gestures and facial expressions just to name a few.

Verbal Communication:


  • Oral: Speech, television, radio, telephone and mobile conversations.
  • Written: Any handwritten, typed, newspaper, printed word               documents, letters, books and magazines.

Non-verbal communication:

Examples: signs, symbols, colors, gestures, body language, touch, eye movements, and facial expressions

Examples of some common behaviors could possibly translate into the following:

  • Agitation/aggression = pain, constipation, infection
  • Wandering = boredom, thirst, and/or hunger
  • Sundowning = mental/physical fatigue, noisy environment, physical environment, low lighting

One Month Training & Support:

  • 3 weekly one-hour in home sessions
  • Understanding Alzheimer’s
  • How to interact with people with Alzheimer’s
  • Activities and Sensory Objects
  • Options for care
  • Support for caregivers
  • Unlimited phone and email support
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