If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. But there are steps you can take to lighten your responsibilities and provide the best quality of life that you can.
Begin by learning everything about dementia as well as ideas you can try. You’ll find that behaviors, moods and responses will change as the illness progresses and you’ll need to be prepared to adapt and be flexible.
The following suggestions can help you plan as you navigate the journey of Alzheimer’s together:
Although there may be uncertainty involved when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, taking steps to have a daily routine can bring a little more structure. You’ll soon recognize what times of day tend to be best for your loved one. Scheduling medical appointments, visits from friends or other outings during this time can go a long way in helping you better manage the situation.
The first lesson to learn is that you’ll need great patience and adaptability. Those with Alzheimer’s cannot control their responses or needs. Accept that things will be changing. Try to have 2-3 options if your first attempt doesn’t work. If you had planned to go grocery shopping but your loved one refuses to leave the house, go another day or call someone who can provide respite.
It’s nice to allow choices for those with Alzheimer’s but don’t provide too many. They won’t be able to entertain several options at one time to decide what they want. If you can, give them 2-3 possibilities and name them when asking questions. Don’t ask an open-ended question, such as what they would like for lunch, but you can ask if they would like soup or a sandwich.
If you are helping your loved one understand a task, keep your directions simple. Again, they won’t be able to manage multi-stepped instructions so if that is required, only give them direction one step at a time. Use simple words. If you can demonstrate with gestures, that may help their understanding. Try not to get frustrated. The task isn’t important. Keeping them engaged is.
One of the more exhausting effects of Alzheimer’s is that it’s very easy for the days and nights to become switched. If your loved one is up at night, wandering or restless, you will be up as well. Caregivers for individuals with Alzheimer’s need their sleep so they can be alert and awake the next day. Discourage long naps or those too close to the evening and talk to the doctor or support groups for other suggestions.
Another challenge of Alzheimer’s is the struggle many people have with eating. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends limiting distractions at mealtime, keeping the table setting simple and distinguishing the food from the plate using contrasting colors. Other tips include serving only one or two foods at a time, serving finger foods to help them maintain independence and to eat together at regular times.
Take steps early to make your home safe. As your loved one progresses through the illness and needs more constant attention, remember that wandering or leaving the home alone can occur at any stage. This can present a real danger as they may not be safe, be able to return home, or know where you are or how to get in touch. This is a frightening experience for everyone.
Try not to exclude your loved one from conversations or other activities around the home even if they struggle to process their thoughts. Include them in conversations and never talk to others in the room as if your loved one isn’t there. You can still connect, even if it’s non-verbal. And even if they can only do a simple task, like putting the napkins on the table, make sure they feel a part of the family.
Although the key to caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s is always to remain flexible, not having any plan for the day is usually not the best course of action. Once you know what time of day is typically best for your loved one, you can plan outings to a favorite place, take a drive and get a treat or invite over a favorite family member or friend for a visit.
Providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy. And the challenges grow along with the illness. It will also be imperative for you to find a way to care for yourself. You will need a break to handle your other responsibilities, as well as respite so you can recharge and be able to continue with new energy and insight.
The progressive nature of Alzheimer’s however often means that the day will come when you’ll no longer be able to provide the level of care that your loved one needs at home. Researching memory care communities before needed can be a relief, so you will know that your loved one will continue to get the best care possible.
Our community can provide the compassionate care your loved one will need progressing through the challenges of Alzheimer’s. You may find you need this extra support if they are no longer able to eat or their physical health deteriorates. Often it is their behavioral changes that make it too difficult for the family to manage at home. You might also see your own health deteriorating to the point that you are in need of care yourself.
We provide a safe and loving environment for your loved one and your family. Not only do we offer a whole-person approach to our residents, our services and amenities also include:
Intimate and secure residential neighborhoods
Spacious apartments with an abundance of sun and natural light
Individual therapy and wellness programs
Licensed nursing staff 24/7 educated in best practices in dementia care
All-day dining with chef inspired meals and stocked kitchens
Social integration with others in the greater community
Family support and education
Call (240) 414-8557 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.