Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term used to describe memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common cause of dementia. It is an irreversible, progressive disease where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.
Looking after a person with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming and taxing. When each day brings new challenges, your role as a caregiver becomes increasingly important at the same time more difficult as you have to cope with changing behaviour, mood and personality.
In this article, we discuss 9 tips to help a caregiver to deal better with Alzheimer’s patients and manage tasks effectively.
- Educate Yourself About Alzheimer’s Disease
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s may not come naturally, hence it is important to do your research, study related articles, seek professional advice to understand better about the disease. Having an idea about the stages of Alzheimer’s and their associated symptoms can help you to manage expectations and plan ahead.
- Build a Routine
A constant daily routine can help people who have Alzheimer’s to develop a sense of familiarity and avoid undesired behaviours such as aggression, fretfulness and agitation. By establishing a predictable routine also allows them to know what to expect and makes them feel calm as they can still retain their sense of control and independence. For those in the earlier stages of dementia, being able to complete a task independently like watering the plants can increase their self-esteem and confidence.
- Keep Them Active
When creating a routine for Alzheimer’s patients, the caregiver should include physical and brain stimulating activities to keep their mind and body active. Bear in mind that some activities need to be modified for practicality and safety while being prepared to discover what they enjoy through trial and error because what they enjoyed in the past may be tough and frustrating now.
Here are some suggestions on stimulating activities:
- Aerobic dance
- Simple household chores
- Cooking & baking
- Do arts and crafts
- Playing instruments or singing
- Reading the newspapers
- Playing with a pet
- Watch their preferable movie
- Work on puzzles
People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may still enjoy going out to places they enjoyed in the past. So plan ahead for outings and during the time when the individual with Alzheimer’s is at their best. Remember what most important is they enjoyed the time spent on it and felt useful and accomplished.
- Encourage Them to Communicate
Communication becomes difficult for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because they find it harder to remember things as time goes on. They may struggle to find the right words or forget what they want to say, and are often unable to process what others are saying. Therefore, it is important to communicate in a way that is right for that person while constantly remaining patient, calm and clear.
Here are some communication strategies for caregiver:
- Turn off potential distractions such as radio or TV
- Speak naturally with calming voice but avoid baby talk
- Use gestures and nonverbal cues
- Talk about one thing at a time
- Get comfortable with silence when they are thinking
- Take time to listen and avoid jumping in
- Identifying yourself and others by name rather than relationship
- Plan early what to talk about, have a topic ready
- Use smells, singing, drawing and other creative methods
- Let him or her make their own decisions and stay involved
- Take a timeout for yourself when you become frustrated
- Create Safe Environment
Maintaining a safe and secure living environment can help to reduce the exposure to hazards and also lessened the amount of stress that both the caregiver and care recipient experience. Hence, home modifications can be done after evaluating current and future needs to ensure safety at the same time promote independence.
- Help Them Plan a Nutritious Diet
An Alzheimer’s patient can experience a variety of eating problems which caused them to lose weight especially when they cannot remember when they last ate or having the trouble chewing and swallowing. Thus, caregivers need to craft a healthy diet plan for them to ensure their body gets enough nutrients. If they don’t chew well, yogurt and pureed foods are some of the great choices.
- Use Pet Therapy
Whether it’s a dog, a cat, a rabbit or even a fish aquarium, the benefits of having a pet for one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are numerous. Pets bring companionships, unconditional love and fun, making them a good companion for someone with Alzheimer’s. Their very presence can help reduce stress and feelings of loneliness, thus reducing the occurrence of agitation or depression. By having a pet, it also encouraged them to be more interactive such as taking a dog for a walk at a park and socialise with others.
- Seek Help and Accept Support
You are not alone. Never try to do everything on your own and do not be afraid to ask for help. There are support groups out there enabling caregivers to vent in a group setting with people who understand what one another is going through. Besides, it also allows caregivers to share with one another their experiences and understand better about the disease. Caregiving is not easy, to avoid burnout and breakdown, it is vital to schedule “me-time” everyday to relax and recharge.
- Know When It Is Time to Bring In Outside Help
People with Alzheimer’s disease will require more care as their condition progresses. Caregivers may not be able to handle some of the demanding tasks such as bathing, dressing or changing urinary drainage bag. If situation takes a turn for the worse, in-home care or a physician-supervised nursing home can be a true blessing for family caregivers. Caregivers may also consider respite care provided in a nursing home so they can have a little time away for themselves especially those who experienced chronic stress, depression and fatigue.
We hope the information provided above is helpful to you. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied to every patient and every problem, the only way is to continuously observe and change through trial and error.
Here at Zenvilla, we provide personalised dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care services to ensure your loved one gets the care they need while living safely and comfortably. We also offer our professional skills and expertise so that you receive the support you need to make caregiving tasks manageable. We hope with our support, caring for your loved one will be less stressful and less overwhelming. If you still have doubts, please feel free to contact our care consultants at +6011-10580034 or email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are in this together.
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