Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s

9/29/2014

Alzheimer’s is a scary diagnosis. One of the most common forms of dementia, it impairs several important brain functions, thus disrupting our daily lives. Dementia is a general term for a decline in memory, analytical thinking and other mental abilities that we need to function on a daily basis. If your loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they will need special care to help them maintain a good quality of live. Our Maryland senior caregivers at 2nd Family have experience caring for Alzheimer’s patients on all stages of the disease. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, its symptoms can be managed with the right approach.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Many symptoms of Alzheimer’s may seem like normal signs of aging, but this is not always the case. There is a big difference between forgetting your friend’s birthday and forgetting how to tie your shoes. On the early stages of the disease, it might be difficult to tell whether occasional absent-mindedness is something to worry about. By the time friends and relatives start noticing changes in a loved one, Alzheimer’s has already done major damage and is expressed in multiple symptoms:

  • Both short-term and long-term memory loss
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Impaired judgment and problem solving skills
  • Reduced ability to focus and pay attention
  • Confusion about time and location
  • Trouble speaking, writing or maintaining a conversation
  • Changes in mood and personality

Ongoing Alzheimer’s research has not yet identified a cure, but there are several medications that can help manage the above symptoms. Unfortunately, these medication may have varying results for different people, so you can’t fully rely on them to help your loved one live a truly independent life.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

Alzheimer’s is one of those diseases that affect not only the person, but everyone around them. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, you know that they essentially require constant care and attention. And it can be both emotionally straining and frustrating to see your loved one slowly lose the essence of who they are.

Despite suffering from memory loss and having lapses in judgment, people with Alzheimer’s can be rather active. They typically don’t need to be confined to a medical or assisted living facility, at least until the disease progresses into its final stages. In-home care delivered by a professional caregiver is often the best care you can provide for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Below are some of the Alzheimer’s care tips that can help you make better decisions when interacting with your loved one.

Develop a Routine

For someone who is occasionally confused about the whereabouts of certain things (and often their own whereabouts), a routine is very helpful. Doing things in a specific order, at designated times and places helps the body learn the routine and establish a rhythm even if the mind forgets. From waking and bed times to a bathing ritual and visitation hours, all activities can be systematized to help your loved one have a sense of order in their lives.

Hold Your Frustration

It takes a lot of patience to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s. You might have to repeat things, explain the same thing in 5 different ways, slow down your speech and otherwise change your normal communication style. And it might take a long time to get a response to a simple question. It’s important to remember that it’s not their fault they can’t seem to understand you or keep repeating themselves. Getting frustrated will not get you anywhere and will only stress out your loved one.

Be Sensitive

Alzheimer’s patients might have impaired brain function, but they still have emotions. They can get upset by learning that their parents or children passed away awhile ago even if it’s a known fact to everyone else. They can also feel humiliation when someone challenges their memory or brings up their forgetfulness. It’s important to choose words carefully when you are talking to your loved one.

Pick up the Queues

People with Alzheimer’s may end up doing things that just don’t make sense to everyone else. They might attempt to move certain items to new locations or start walking aimlessly, repeating their path. While odd to you, these behaviors often have a purpose—a need that has to be fulfilled. Because dementia can make it difficult to communicate this need, you will often have to guess or try suggesting different solutions until something resonates with your loved one.

Besides the unfulfilled needs, strange behavior may also be attributed to medication side-effects or hallucinations. When someone is providing care for an Alzheimer’s patient on a daily basis, they will notice the onset of any new symptoms and take timely action by notifying the doctor.

Keep Them Active

As we mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s is not the type of disease that confines someone to a bed (at least not in the early stages). In fact, it’s therapeutic for Alzheimer’s patients to have hobbies, be outside, socialize and stimulate their brains in general. Staying at home and watching TV day after day is not a quality life for your loved one. This is when an in-home caregiver can be invaluable in keeping your loved one company and doing activities when you are not available.

Whether you are looking for live-in care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, or you just need someone to come in while you are taking some time off, 2nd Family can help. Contact us today to talk about your senior care need.

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