Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease at home is a demanding and sometimes intimidating responsibility. Each day comes with new challenges as the caregiver copes with the fluctuating degree of ability and changing behavioral patterns. According to research, caregivers are also often at an increased risk of developing depression and illness, especially if they do not receive appropriate support from family, friends, and the community.
Dealing with troublesome behaviors of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients is one of the prime struggles that a caregiver faces. Routine daily activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing may also become hard to manage for the patient and the caregiver.
Caregivers can deal with the situation more effectively if they have a strategy for getting through the day. Many caregivers have found these strategies helpful in coping with strenuous behaviors of Alzheimer’s patients and stressful situations.
We have some informative tips to help the caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients. However, every individual responds differently to the disease and exhibits wide-ranging changes with disease progression. Therefore, by trial and error, one might will find some of these tips helpful, while others may not work. Do the best you can, and remember to take breaks to keep yourself active and healthy.
Dealing with the Diagnosis
Discovering that a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be frightening, stressful, and overwhelming. As you start to assess the situation, the following tips may help you deal with the diagnosis.
- Ask: Ask the doctor if you have any questions about Alzheimer’s disease. Find out about the treatments that might work best to relieve symptoms or address behavioral issues.
- Contact: To get more information about Alzheimer’s disease, treatment options, and caregiving tips and resources, contact organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Research Association and the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Some community groups may offer classes for teaching problem-solving, management, and caregiving skills to the caregivers.
- Find: The caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia can benefit from support groups. Find a group where you can share your concerns and feelings with other caregivers. The group members will share helpful ideas, insight, and knowledge of beneficial resources according to their own experience. Caregivers can receive support without leaving home via such online support groups.
- Organize: Analyze your day to determine if you can develop a routine to make things go more smoothly. In case there are times of day when your patient is more cooperative or less confused, organize your daily routine to do the best that you can with those moments. Remember that the person’s mood and functions may change from day-to-day. Therefore, try to be flexible and adapt your routine as per the need.
- Take a break: Opt for adult care or respite care services to alleviate the daily demands of caregiving. These services allow the caregivers to take a break, knowing that their patients are under proper care.
- Plan for the future: Start planning for the future. These plans include getting legal and financial documents in order, exploring long-term care options, and determining the services covered by Medicare and health insurance.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be demanding. The person may become agitated if simple tasks become difficult for them. To reduce frustration and agitation, consider the following tips.
- Plan wisely: Establishing a daily routine may help organize the day-to-day activities and tasks. Some tasks like bathing or visiting a doctor are more convenient when the patient feels refreshed and alert. Remember to be flexible specifically for managing difficult days.
- Involve the person: Allow your patient to do as many tasks as possible independently or with minimum assistance.
- Provide choices: Provide your patient with some (not too many) choices. For instance, you can provide them with two outfits to make a choice.
- Give simple instructions. Since Alzheimer’s patients best understand clear and one-step communication, provide them with simple instructions.
- Limit napping and reduce distractions. Avoid extended or multiple naps during the day to curtail frustration. Similarly, minimizing distractions at mealtime or during conversation can make it more convenient for the patient to focus.
MAKING THE ENVIRONMENT SAFER
Since dementia deteriorates judgment and problem-solving ability, it is crucial to take measures to make the environment safer for your patient to eliminate any risk of injury. You can promote safety with the following caregiver tips.
- Use locks: Add locks to the cabinets that contain anything harmful or dangerous, such as guns, alcohol, medicine, toxic cleaning chemicals, dangerous tools, etc.
- Prevent falls: Avoid or remove anything, including extension cords, scatter rugs, or other clutter, that can cause falls. Installing grab bars or handrails in critical areas can also significantly help.
- Fire safety precautions: Take fire safety precautions to prevent any dangerous situation. Keep the lighter and matches out of your patient’s reach and supervise smoking if the person smokes. Ensure that a fire extinguisher is within your reach and the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.
- Check water temperature: Always keep a check on the water temperature to prevent burns.