Alzheimer’s disease can be a devastating diagnosis for the person living with it and their caregivers. Once the illness begins to progress, it can feel harder to understand what they’re going through. Although you’ll never know what it’s like to live with memory loss, there are ways to help your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be extremely difficult for everyone involved. The disease can be hard to live with and it can lead to valid frustrations among caregivers. Unfortunately, being that it is a progressive illness, becoming a caregiver will be more critical with each passing day. It will require a lot of empathy, patience, and flexibility, a feat that is easier said than done.
Even so, if you’re interested in learning more about how to care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the journey. The key to assisting someone with Alzheimer’s is to maintain practical, everyday tasks within their capabilities. Here are a few daily tasks to help your loved one living with Alzheimer’s.
Generally speaking, planning will become increasingly more difficult for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s after a certain point. It can help to establish familiar locations and activities for them to interact with on a regular basis. Try to plan everyday activities during strategic times of the day. For example, if they have an upcoming doctor’s appointment, make sure you schedule their nap at a time that will make them feel most comfortable. At the same time, be careful not to allow them to have an inconsistent sleep schedule, as this could throw them off even further.
Your loved one may become more irritable when they’re unable to perform seemingly simple tasks. This can be hard for everyone involved since they’ll want to be more independent while you’re trying to be their caregiver. With that in mind, try to prevent any frustrations before they happen. For example, try to keep their brains engaged on one thing at a time during events like dinnertime. This could look like turning off the TV or other background noise so they can solely focus on your conversation.
Patience will be the ultimate virtue when it comes to being a caregiver for someone living with memory loss. They’re going to struggle and take longer to complete tasks that may only take a few minutes for you. If they mistake a memory or don’t remember something, avoid correcting them on the error. You should also avoid filling in the blanks for them so it doesn’t frustrate them. If their behavior appears to be unreasonable, try not to deflect it with logic. Make sure they focus on one thing at a time and walk them through the task step-by-step.
Since people with Alzheimer’s tend to have an impaired sense of judgment and problem-solving skills, you’ll need to decrease their risk of injuring themselves. As little as they may seem, it’s important to consider details like the temperature of the sink along with objects that one could easily overlook. Install locks on cabinets or storage spaces containing dangerous items like guns, medicine, or toxic cleaning substances. Make sure lighters and matches are inaccessible while freeing the floor of anything that could invoke a fall.
It can be very difficult for people with Alzheimer’s to communicate in an effective manner, especially as the disease progresses. Thus, you’ll need to adapt to their communication skills by making deliberate choices that show you care. When conversing with your loved one, look them straight in the eye and refer to them by name. Instead of asking vague questions that may be difficult for them to answer, be more assertive. For example, instead of asking how they’re feeling, be more specific with something like “are you hungry?”
Whenever possible, allow your loved one to have supervised moments of independence. A large reason many people living with memory loss experience frustration is the amount of reliance they have on other people. Even something as simple as assisting you with dishes can help them feel more independent. You can also help them make independent decisions by offering them choices. You can choose two different outfits but allow them to select which one to wear. This limits their decision-making while also fostering independence.
Are you a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia? Our compassionate team at Medilodge understands your current experiences and wants to help you along the journey. Contact us to learn more about our memory care services and what we can do to help your loved one.
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