Caregivers Can Help Preserve Alzheimer’s Patients’ Dignity

Caregivers Can Help Preserve Alzheimer’s Patients’ Dignity

Dignity diminished

Alzheimer’s disease has a way of robbing a person's dignity. Given enough time, it strips away what is basic to our loved one’s personality, including the very characteristics associated with dignity. It replaces their normal reserve, appearance, language, and seriousness of manner with odd behavior that is out of alignment with their character.

Dignity isn’t earned

We can’t stop the robber from stealing these characteristics; however, there is a second definition on which caregivers can and should focus. This definition infuses hope: Dignity is "the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed." Dignity doesn't depend on cognitive ability, just as a person’s worth isn’t reliant on what they can or cannot remember. Being dignified and having dignity are two different things. A person without cognitive ability might exhibit less dignified behavior, but they are still worthy of honor and esteem. Competent, loving caregivers preserve the dignity of the person under their care.

Through conversation

Preserve dignity by speaking kindly. Actions may speak louder than words, but there is also a direct correlation between respect or a lack of respect and how we converse with our loved ones. Yes, answering the same question over and over again can get annoying. Your parent, spouse, or child can’t control short-term memory loss, but you are in control of how you react. Respond with respect and insist that others do the same. Additionally, when the
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