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Problem Solving

"For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour." ... Mary Kay Ash

Problem Solving is not a new skill ... You have been solving problems throughout your life.

The difference now is that many of the problems affecting your loved one come with advanced age or a chronic illness and may be new to you. Being an effective caregiver involves learning strategies for planning and problem-solving—and for taking care of yourself. Studies have shown that caregivers who don't look after themselves are at high risk for burnout, depression, physical illnesses, abusive behavior, loss of friends, and strained family relations.

Caregivers work hard to enable their loved ones to live as independently as possible and with the highest possible quality of life. The reality is that being a Caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is often a series of grief experiences as you watch memories disappear and skills erode. For both caretakers and their loved ones, this often produces an emotional wallop of confusion, anger and sadness. Being organized on a daily basis and being ready to handle unexpected situations will reduce stress and help you care for your loved one.

What can I do to be a more effective caregiver?

There are many approaches to problem solving, depending on the nature of the problem and the people involved in the problem. Alzheimer's patients provide new challenges for caregivers at home.

Caregivers face tests of stamina, problem-solving, and resiliency because caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease impacts every aspect of daily life and the Alzheimer’s sufferer loses one ability after another.

The following are some problem-solving tips:

  • Identify and discuss any problems that currently exist.
  • Find out what local resources are available to help you.
  • Develop a strategy or long-term plan if your loved one's condition changes or gets worse.
  • Consider any potential problems and what services may be needed.
  • Be prepared to act and/or make the necessary changes.
  • Have the telephone numbers of your loved one's doctors, as well as those of emergency services, where they can easily be located in an emergency.
  • One suggestion is to preprogram these numbers into your phone or tape them on the telephone receiver.



Planning Tips

Plan your days by assigning priorities and realistic goals for what you want to accomplish.

  • Make a list of what needs to be done, and do the most important things first.

Identify friends, neighbors, and other relatives who are willing and able to help you.

  • Find out what types of support they are willing to provide, and when they are available.
  • Arrange your day to take full advantage of any available help from friends, neighbors, outside agencies, etc.
  • Develop a schedule to be sure your loved one's needs are covered 24 hours a day, if needed.

Pace yourself.

  • Don't work yourself to the point of exhaustion.
  • This can affect your ability to be an effective caregiver and could pose a threat to your health.

Set limits and stick to them.

  • Learn to say "NO!!," even to your loved one.

Caregivers are important members of the health care team.

  • Develop a partnership with your loved one's health care providers, and get involved in developing any short- and long-term care plans.

Follow these steps for solving problems as they occur

Step #1 - Identify and Understand the Problem

What exactly is the problem? ... Consider it carefully ... Do this by asking yourself:
What is it that I am really worried about?
Is there anything else about it that worries me?
It seems that my main worry is ...

By answering these questions you can be clear about the problem

Step #2 - Get Informaton ... Sometimes there is more than one solution

What do you know about the cause of the behaviour?
What are the details?
Is it caused by Dementia?
Could it have a medical cause?
What has changed lately?
Is it something I am doing?

It is best to have all the details before deciding on a solution

Step #3 - Identify the possible solutions ... Sometimes there is more than one solution

If possible ask others as other caregivers, relatives or friends for their ideas.
Consider all the possibilities ... Usually each possibility has pluses and minuses.
Ask: ... How might this solution work? ... What might happen if I do it this way?

You are trying to find as many possibilities as you can.

Step #4 - Choose the best solution

The best solution is the one you are most comfortable with.
Solutions that are hard to carry out OR you dont agree with shouldn't be chosen.
You must feel OK about what you decide to try.
Ask ... Which of these possibilities will be the best for the person and the best for me?

Step #5 - Have a Plan of Action

Plan the steps you will take.
Make a 'To Do' list that shows what you will do, and when you will do it.
It might help to discuss your plans with other caregivers, relatives and friends.
What you try may not work as you want it to ... you may have to make changes.
Discussing what is happening with others can help.