Chances are, you or someone you know has or will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As we continue to actively search and hope for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, those affected by it need to know the best ways to care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Care Tip #1 – Let Them Do It
It is too easy to think because a person with Alzheimer’s disease may move at a slower pace, that they need our help with everything. Give them a chance to complete tasks at their own pace with encouragement and step by step instructions if needed. The Alzheimer’s patient may appear unable to walk when in reality they can walk if you tell them how. For example: Keep your hands on your walker, move your right foot forward, now move your left foot forward, push the walker forward, now move .. etc. It may sound too simple to you but to the Alzheimer’s patient, the simplest tasks may be difficult.
Alzheimer’s Care Tip #2 – Simple Tasks Are More Fun
If you are caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, you may try to bring things back from their past to allow them to do again. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease may prevent them from sewing or knitting like they used to. Attempting to get an Alzheimer’s patient to do past life hobbies may be frustrating to them and the caregiver. Instead, simple task can give them something to do while helping them feel appreciated. Examples of simple tasks for Alzheimer’s patients are: folding laundry, sorting laundry, clipping coupons (depending on stage and safety), gardening, coloring, making collages, washing dishes, and taking care of pets. All of these tasks may require supervision and help depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s disease that you are working with.
Alzheimer’s Care Tip #3 – Dressing and Grooming
If Mom had her hair done on Tuesdays all of her life by Betty, continue this routine as long as possible. Alzheimer’s disease may contribute to Mom forgetting that the stove is still on but she will likely remember her weekly hair appointment with Betty. Lack of routine and lack of grooming can lead to depression especially in the patient with Alzheimer’s disease. Let Mom pick out her clothes but make it simple by offering only two choices. Continue to let Mom groom herself as she did before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, just keep her safe (from things like razors and metal nail files) and help her if she needs it.
Alzheimer’s Care Tip #4 – Eating and Weight Loss
As Alzheimer’s patients advance in their disease, they often forget to eat, loose their appetite, and think they have already eaten. First of all, make sure you keep a routine and have meals at the same time everyday. Routines are essential in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients to help them know what to expect on a daily basis. Many times Alzheimer’s patients have difficulty eating and the frustration stops them from eating adequately. Make sure that your loved one can still use a fork, they may need a spoon; use a bowl instead of a plate to help them scoop up the food; ask about food preferences, just because they enjoyed a particular food in the past does not mean they do now; allow ample time to eat, as with all other tasks, those affected with Alzheimer’s disease are slower at eating, so don’t rush them! Offer high calorie snacks and easy to eat finger foods throughout the day and with meals, supplements like ensure can add calories and other missing nutrients.
Alzheimer’s Care Tip #5 – Communicating
Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, your loved one may find communication an increasing challenge. Alzheimer’s patients often: lose their train of thought, forget words, make up words, become angry and curse out of frustration, and speak less out of frustration. When communicating with your loved one with Alzheimer’s: speak to them, do not criticize them, let them take their time and ask for descriptions if they can not remember the word, help them find the right word but do not interrupt, use tools like writing boards as needed, and reminisce daily with pictures and other memory items.