When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, deciding how to best care for them can be overwhelming. While you’ll want to do everything you can to promote their independence, comfort, and well-being, it can be difficult to determine the best way to do so. People will need more care as the disease progresses, and they will increasingly rely on caregivers and family members to support them in activities of daily living. It’s important to balance their immediate physical and basic needs (bathing, dressing, and eating) with their emotional, social and spiritual needs.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, many people continue to function with some independence, and may continue to work, drive, and socialize with relatively minor impairment. However, as the disease advances, everyday activities become more difficult. At a certain point, it will no longer be possible for your loved one to drive, and they will require more help managing simple tasks. It’s common for people in the middle stages of the disease to experience more severe memory loss, as well as dramatic mood and behavioral changes. As a caregiver, patience and flexibility are keys to helping you navigate these challenging aspects of the disease.
In addition to attending to your loved one’s physical needs, helping them to feel connected socially and to retain a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives is tremendously important, and can make a dramatic difference in their quality of life. Even simple activities can be significant for someone in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, and can provide a great opportunity to spend time with your loved one in a fun, relaxed setting. Taking walks provides great exercise, as well as giving them the opportunity to spend time outdoors. Gardening is also a great outdoor activity that you can enjoy together. Painting, drawing, singing, or playing an instrument can provide an outlet for self-expression. The focus when performing these activities should be on enjoyment, rather than results. Refrain from criticism or setting too many rules, and pay attention to their responses to find the activities that bring them the most pleasure and least frustration.
Although people with Alzheimer’s do need to be treated with patience and gentleness, they can also benefit greatly from a sense of structure. Having them help with simple tasks – like setting the table or sweeping a patio – can help your loved one to feel a sense of accomplishment and involvement in family life. Finally, it’s essential to talk to your loved one. Even if they aren’t able to fully engage in conversation, talking to them will help them feel included and lessen feelings of isolation.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care of Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.