Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a journey requiring a great deal of patience and understanding. The progressive nature of this disease means you will need to be aware of and adapt to changes in the behavior of your loved one as the disease progresses. You must learn as much about Alzheimer’s as possible to help your loved one and develop skills that will make the transitions easier for both of you.
Make Sure You Have an Accurate Diagnosis
It is important to have a thorough evaluation that rules out any treatable diseases with symptoms like Alzheimer’s. A geriatric specialist can determine if the dementia symptoms are due to Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia and then tailor treatment. This will also help you recognize specific symptoms and changes in behavior that signal a new stage of the disease. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can improve the quality of life.
Learn as Much as You Can
The more you know about Alzheimer’s, the easier it is to recognize and understand changes in your loved one’s behavior. You can then adapt your communication and caregiving regimen to better fit their needs; www. Alz.org is a great resource.
Establish a Routine
Try to keep as normal a routine as possible, including self-care, physical exercise, and socialization. A structured daily routine can provide a level of comfort and security as issues with confusion arise.
As the disease progresses, be prepared to adapt to the needs of your loved one as they change. Remaining flexible will help decrease anxiety issues for your loved one as they begin to have trouble with communication skills.
Focus on Your Communication Style
Alzheimer’s results in a decline in memory and focus; short-term memory is particularly affected. They may not recall what they had for lunch two hours earlier; but will reminisce and recall details from years before. Help them relive these enjoyable memories, not by asking questions but by leading the conversation to recollections they enjoy talking about.
Alzheimer’s also causes changes in reasoning skills and communication ability. This can result in frustration for you and for your loved one. Because people with Alzheimer’s gradually lose the ability to communicate, it is important to regularly monitor their comfort and anticipate their needs. Adjust your communication style to avoid correcting them, and make sure that your body language is in sync with your words. Remaining calm and reassuring will help them stay calm. It may be necessary to step out of the room and take a few breaths if your loved one is extremely agitated.
Reimagine Quality Time
As the disease progresses, your loved one may not be able to participate in conversations that are complex or maintain the active lifestyle they once enjoyed. You can still maintain that bond by listening to their favorite music or looking at pictures together.
Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s can be frustrating and overwhelming. You must maintain your health. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and some stress release. Above all, seek out help. Adding outside helpers will allow you to be at your best when caring for your family member.