Alzheimer’s is debilitating for those who suffer from the disease, and it can be a trying time for their caretakers.
If you have a spouse, family member, or friend who suffers from Alzheimer’s, you know all too well that the disease can cause major behavioural changes, including emotional changes. These changes can be overwhelming for all those involved. You may be asking yourself: How do I prepare for these changes? What can I do to alleviate some of the obstacles that Alzheimer’s can cause?
There are many things you can do to improve the quality of life for the person in your life who is affected by Alzheimer’s, and there are several ways that you can make caretaking easier for yourself. Here are our tips to help friends and family members of those of us who are suffering from Alzheimer’s — and as always, you can count on the caretakers here at Nova Home Health Care for in-home caretaking services.
Accept Behavioral Changes
Alzheimer’s is a confusing time for its victims, and it can be incredibly frustrating. Imagine losing precious memories, or losing your short term memory. Alzheimer’s patients may act agitated, or they may be depressed. Patients often feel trapped, or they may begin pacing frequently. Regardless of how Alzheimer’s affects the individual in your life, it’s best to accept their behavioural changes and to adapt to them.
Be understanding and accepting. Show that you respect this individual’s emotions, and ask them simple questions about how they’re feeling.
Simplify the Day to Day
A simple, repetitive schedule may be best for an Alzheimer’s patient. Plan on a consistent bedtime, consistent meal times, and simple activities throughout the day. A succinct schedule can be helpful for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s since it can make the world feel more familiar. Build a simple schedule for the person you care for, and help them to stick to that schedule.
Alzheimer’s sufferers make mistakes. They repeat themselves. They may need constant care and attention. It can be difficult to remain patient, but it’s best to remember that Alzheimer’s patients operate best with consistency in their lives. Be patient even during challenging times.
Stay in Good Humor
As we mentioned, Alzheimer’s is frustrating — that’s true for both patients and those who care for them. However, it’s especially important for caretakers to remain in good humour, even when times can be trying. A bit of positivity can go a long way to reduce the inherent negativity of Alzheimer’s. Be sure to be as optimistic as possible with the one you care for. If you are upset, try to remain calm, or remove yourself from the situation if possible. Never act aggressive towards an Alzheimer’s patient, since it can cause even more issues. Again, be patient with the person you care for.
Work on Simple Tasks
It can be difficult to socialize as a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s patients can often perform simple tasks, especially tasks that they’ve practised their whole lives. Until the later stages of Alzheimer’s — where it can be difficult to perform the most habitual tasks — simple tasks can help patients to engage with other people in their lives, and it can help them to feel useful.
You might ask for help while doing the dishes. Or perhaps you can work on a crossword together. There are many options that help patients to cope with Alzheimer’s; these small tasks provide a brief escape from the effects of Alzheimer’s.
If this person is constantly overwhelmed or agitated, some distraction can help to soothe the mind. Consider putting on some light music, or a familiar TV show. Or have a puzzle to work on. These distractions can be especially helpful for those that are having difficulty coping with the concept of Alzheimer’s and its effect on their lives.
Now, while some distraction can be helpful to keep the mind at ease, too many stimuli can be overbearing. Playing music while the TV is on, for instance, may seem confusing and overwhelming for those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Keep distractions simple and calming, and change activities if the patient reacts negatively.
Keep Things Familiar
As your friend shifts through phases of Alzheimer’s, it can become more and more difficult for them to recognize their surroundings. A restaurant can become overwhelming. Even a look in the mirror can seem strange. Do your best to provide a familiar environment for the person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. If possible, care for your close one in the comfort of their own home. Provide familiar food, partake in familiar activities. Keep old friends around to help provide care, and to simply provide a familiar face.
Also, look for signs that the person with Alzheimer’s is uncomfortable. People often become agitated, angry, or even quiet, depending on their disposition. You can always offer to move to a more comfortable space.
The National Institute on Aging tells us that extra attention may be necessary for Alzheimer’s patients that are prone to hurt themselves in their daily activities. In their article, Home Safety and Alzheimer’s Disease, the National Institute on Aging we should ask ourselves the following questions to help determine whether or not an individual should be left alone:
“Does the person with Alzheimer’s:
- Become confused or unpredictable under stress?
- Recognize a dangerous situation, for example, fire?
- Know how to use the telephone in an emergency?
- Know how to get help?
- Stay content within the home?
- Wander and become disoriented?
- Show signs of agitation, depression, or withdrawal when left alone for any period of time?
- Attempt to pursue former interests or hobbies that might now warrant supervision, such as cooking, appliance repair, or woodworking?“
If you are caring for someone who should not be left alone, consider hiring help from an in-home caretaker, or collaborate with other friends and family members. Also, do your best to remove dangers from the home of Alzheimer’s sufferer. Take note that even a stovetop can be dangerous for someone who is forgetful. Install protective devices (including a fire alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, and other home safety devices) to reduce the possibility of an accident.
Count on Nova Home Health Care
If you live here in Fairfax, Alexandria, or Arlington, Nova Home Health Care can help you to care for the one that you care for. Let us help you to reduce the burden of demanding Alzheimer’s care. Get in touch with us for more information. Also, feel free to take a look at our full list of caretaking services, including in-home caretaking.