Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way

At this time, there are no medical treatments for Alzheimer’s, preventative or otherwise. Caregivers often become frustrated when Alzheimer’s patients are uncooperative. A recent article from the New York Times takes a look at a nursing home that does not follow the “typical” rules. They allow their patients to eat what they want when they want, to sleep when they want, and to have practically whatever it is that may comfort them and keep them calm. Creating “positive emotional experiences” calms not only the one being cared for, but also alleviates a lot of stress for the caregiver. If you are a caregiver of a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s, remember to choose your battles. When dementia has such a strong hold, trying to do things the way you may think they “should” be done may only lead to fatigue and disappointment. Instead, consider some unconventional methods that will give you and your loved one some much deserved relief. For professional Geriatric Care Management in South Florida, visit

Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate

PHOENIX — Margaret Nance was, to put it mildly, a difficult case. Agitated, combative, often reluctant to eat, she would hit staff members and fellow residents at nursing homes, several of which kicked her out. But when Beatitudes nursing home agreed to an urgent plea to accept her, all that changed.

Disregarding typical nursing-home rules, Beatitudes allowed Ms. Nance, 96 and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, to sleep, be bathed and dine whenever she wanted, even at 2 a.m. She could eat anything, too, no matter how unhealthy, including unlimited chocolate.

And she was given a baby doll, a move that seemed so jarring that a supervisor initially objected until she saw how calm Ms. Nance became when she rocked, caressed and fed her “baby,” often agreeing to eat herself after the doll “ate” several spoonfuls.

Dementia patients at Beatitudes are allowed practically anything that brings comfort, even an alcoholic “nip at night,” said Tena Alonzo, director of research. “Whatever your vice is, we’re your folks,” she said.

Once, Ms. Alonzo said: “The state tried to cite us for having chocolate on the nursing chart. They were like, ‘It’s not a medication.’ Yes, it is. It’s better than Xanax.”

It is an unusual posture for a nursing home, but Beatitudes is actually following some of the latest science. Research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems.

In fact, science is weighing in on many aspects of taking care of dementia patients, applying evidence-based research to what used to be considered subjective and ad hoc.

With virtually no effective medical treatment for Alzheimer’s yet, most dementia therapy is the caregiving performed by families and nursing homes. Some 11 million people care for Alzheimer’s-afflicted relatives at home. In nursing homes, two-thirds of residents have some dementia.

Continue reading from The New York Times…

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