Alzheimer’s caretakers learn from support group 

When dealing with people with Alzheimer’s, Polly Johnston said it’s best to keep discussions simple.

“Keep it simple,” Johnston said. “They can’t process too much information.”

Johnston is program manager of the Alzheimer’s Association and led a support group discussion Thursday at Bickford Assisted Living in Marshalltown with Jeff Wisnieski of Home Instead Senior Care.

Wisnieski said taking care of those with Alzheimer’s can be very frustrating and oftentimes caretakers feel they are doing something wrong. In reality, he said, it is nobody’s fault.

Many times caretakers will be led down a path where Alzheimer’s patients are in different places or different times of their lives. Wisnieski said they don’t need to be corrected if they go down this path.

“As long as it’s not going to physically or emotionally hurt you or them,” Wisnieski said.

Johnston agreed and said it’s OK to agree with Alzheimer’s patients even if they are wrong.

“The person with dementia is always right as long at they are safe,” Johnston said.

Johnston said no two dementia cases are alike.

“It’s so individual,” she said. “We always say once you meet one person with dementia, you’ve met one person with dementia. Even though some have very similar traits.”

Around the holidays, it’s best to keep the decorations simple without too many bright lights, Johnston said.

“Too much stimulus is overload for the brain,” Johnston said.