When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. You may feel anxious, worried, sad, and confused about what your role will be and what the future will hold. You’ll probably want to do whatever you can to help, but may be unsure of the best way how.
Although an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, the good news is that there is much you can do as a care partner, to assist your loved one in maintaining their quality of life. Although many people with Alzheimer’s will eventually need assistance with daily living, much of them continue to function with relative independence and engage in rewarding, meaningful activities in the early stages of the disease. In fact, maintaining an active social life, staying involved with hobbies, and continuing to participate as fully as possible in the activities they enjoy will help them stay healthy and may slow the progression of memory loss.
As a care partner, your support can have a big impact. Because people with early stage Alzheimer’s often retain a high level of function, it’s appropriate to provide gentle encouragement, rather than assuming responsibility for all of their needs. Whenever possible, you can facilitate social activities and time with friends and loved ones. Giving reminders about appointments and medication schedules, as well as reminding them of names, places, and words, can help them to retain independence by enabling them to keep track of crucial information. Encouraging them to take part in their favorite hobbies and activities – walking, bird watching, crossword puzzles, card games, or anything that provides mental and physical stimulation – is a great way to help them stay independent. Encouraging your loved one to stick to a daily routine is also tremendously helpful, as predictability and structure will enable them to participate more easily in daily activities.
Even though you can make a real difference in the life of someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to remember that you can’t do it all by yourself. It’s critical to seek out your own support system, take time for self-care, and recognize that, despite your best efforts, there will be major challenges. By staying aware of your own needs as a care partner while providing support to your loved one, you’ll be in a great position to help them maintain their independence for as long as possible.
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.