If someone you care about has Alzheimer’s, then you’re familiar with the worry, sadness, and feelings of anxiety that can accompany the diagnosis. Even if you’re not the one personally facing the memory loss, confusion, and compromised cognitive abilities that characterize the disease, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is extremely challenging. Many of the difficult and stressful aspects of the disease affect caregivers, as well as patients. The good news is that there are things you can do to make the process easier for yourself, as well as for your loved one.
When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, patience is key. Even in the early stages of the disease, cognitive changes can bring about difficulty performing everyday tasks, and corresponding feelings of frustration and agitation. It can be very difficult to observe someone you love, struggling to do things that used to be easy. By planning ahead and determining top priorities for your loved one’s care, however, you can minimize frustrations and help ease the transition from complete independence to greater reliance on caregivers.
For people with Alzheimer’s, different times of day often bring about different moods. Someone who is calm and easygoing in the afternoon, for example, may be more easily agitated in the morning. Scheduling potentially stressful events (like doctor’s visits) for times of day when your loved one is most relaxed, can be very helpful. Many daily tasks, such as dressing and bathing, may take longer than they used to. Allow plenty of time so there’s no need to rush. Providing fewer choices can reduce stress and allow your loved one to be more involved in the day-to-day aspects of their care: for example, giving two meal options, instead of an entire menu, can make it easier for them to choose and to maintain a sense of autonomy. Minimizing distractions, such as TV and radio, can help your loved one to be more engaged and attentive. Always making sure you keep things simple and giving step-by-step instructions for tasks can make it much easier to convey your wishes and help your loved one understand what’s expected of them.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, safety concerns become more pressing. In order to protect your own safety, as well as that of your loved one, keep potentially hazardous materials, such as chemicals, matches, lighters, and knives, out of reach. Installing locks on cabinets or closet doors can be very helpful in securing dangerous items. Make sure that the water temperature is set within a range that won’t cause burns, even at maximum temperature.
Most of all, when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to stay flexible. Recognize that the issues affecting your loved one may be unpredictable; the best thing you can do for them (and for yourself) is to be willing to make adjustments as needed, and to remember that your support makes all the difference in your loved one’s quality of life.
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.