What is The Best Way to Care for Someone with Alzheimer’s?
Home Care Agencies, Suffolk County, NY
Dementia is the umbrella term for a cognitive impairment or a loss of cognitive functioning. There are several types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease (which is the most common form), vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal, to name a few.
When a person develops Alzheimer’s disease, the brain shrinks (atrophy) over time and brain cells die. Almost 6 million people in the United States age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease. Of those, 80% are 75 years old and older.
The Alzheimer’s Association outlines ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease below.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or problem solving
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
For those providing care to someone with Alzheimer’s, it can be a journey filled with hills and valleys. For some it can seem that each day presents a new set of challenges and changes in the person’s symptoms and behaviors. Alzheimer’s disease causes the person to slowly require assistance and guidance with most or all of his or her activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as, cooking, dressing appropriately for the weather, bathing, personally hygiene care, medication reminders, etc.
One of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is changes in mood and personality. It’s important to keep in mind that sudden or severe changes in behavior could indicate an underlying medical issue such as, a urinary tract infection. Caregivers will need to become very attuned to the person’s normal baseline behaviors and spikes or changes to that routine.
When caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease the firs step is to become educated on the disease so that you can understand why the person is no longer able to do certain things, for example, remembering to take medications, and to reduce some of the stress associated with caregiving. Once you have a good understanding of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and the behaviors that it causes, creating a care plan will be much easier.
Below are guidelines to caring for a person with dementia.
- Create a structured daily routine and stick to it. This is one of the cornerstones to helping a person with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s all about the daily routine and keeping the same schedule for meals, sleep, personal care, etc. for the same times each day. If you are not able to be there every day to help the person keep to a routine, hiring a professional caregiver would be a great solution
- Have regular follow-ups with the neurologist. By seeing a neurologist on a regular basis, you can better address changes in your loved one’s disease and get the appropriate medications to help with that. This will also you to stay informed on any new medications available or breakthroughs about Alzheimer’s disease
- Stay compliant with medications. Remind your loved one to take his or her medication on schedule each day and try not to miss doses. This will help create stability with your loved one’s symptoms and to stay on track with his or her health and well-being
- Incorporate meaningful activities each day. A person with Alzheimer’s needs cognitive stimulation and socialization to keep the mind exercised and strong. Whether it’s adult coloring books, conversation, crossword puzzles, activities that keep the brain active are essential to your loved one’s cognitive health
- Keep a daily exercise routine. Physical exercise can be very beneficial for brain health. Daily exercises such as walking, stretching, or weightlifting, can help with circulation and even improve cognition.
- Listen to music each day. The part of the brain that remembers music is one of the last areas to be impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. It becomes a strength for the person and a daily dose of music can help to strengthen the mind, help with communication and speech, and has even shown to improve cognition.
There is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease but using these tips can help to improve the person’s quality of life and brain health. Keep in mind that the person with Alzheimer’s can still enjoy life experiences just like the rest of us. They just need their caregivers and family members to understand where their strengths lie and how to best use those strengths to help their overall well-being.
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