Caring for A Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
When a loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they often require a higher level of care and attention. Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning their memory and focus will continue to deteriorate over time. Family members often take on a great deal of responsibility in keeping their loved one safe and content. This can come with its fair share of challenges, however.
Understanding the symptoms of dementia and the struggles seniors face can help you to provide more effective and quality care. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
• Increase Home Safety
Many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease tend to get confused about where they are or start wandering. Put locks or alarms on the doors and windows to make them more difficult to open without someone being alerted. You may also want to put visual signs that say “stop” or “do not open” as a deterrent.
It is also a good idea to secure any sharp knives, matches, or lighters, and put safety knobs or automatic shutoffs on the stove. Consider decreasing the hot water temperature as well to reduce risk of burns.
Another effective safety measure is adding handrails or grab bars to help seniors get up and down the stairs or navigate in and out of the bathtub. Securing rugs and adding slip-resistant features can help prevent falls as well.
• Create a Routine
You may notice that your loved one becomes frustrated or confused more easily as their dementia progresses. Try to stick to a familiar routine so they know what to expect and can flow more seamlessly from one activity to the next. If you are going to change their routine, give plenty of notice and continued reminders.
• Provide Choices
Seniors with dementia may have difficulty choosing what to wear or eat. They may become confused when looking for a certain object. Help reduce confusion and support their independence by providing two or three options they can choose from. They still have control to make decisions, but there are fewer choices. Keep them involved in decision making as much as possible, and allow them to do as much as they can independently or with minimal support.
• Minimize Distractions
The TV or radio playing in the background can make it harder for individuals with dementia to focus and concentrate on the matter at hand. Lots of people talking around them can be troubling too. Try to minimize distractions and have conversations in a quiet place where they can focus on you and what you are saying, or what you are asking them to do. Provide clear, simple instructions that are easy to follow, or ask questions one at a time.
• Remain Calm
Dementia or Alzheimer’s can be just as frustrating for your senior as it is for you. Remember that they may need more time to complete tasks or respond to questions. If they refuse to eat, use a gentle and encouraging tone. Sit down and eat along with them. When they become agitated, put on some soft music, show them pictures, or start a conversation about something familiar that they enjoy as a distraction. Try to plan activities around times when you know they are more agitated, confused, or restless.
• Seek Assistance
Caring for someone with dementia can be a demanding job. Take advantage of options such as in-home care to help manage responsibilities. A caregiver who is trained in working with individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s can support your loved one with daily tasks around the home, medication reminders, basic hygiene, meal preparation, general companionship, and much more. It can provide you some much needed respite while having the peace of mind knowing that they are receiving the care and assistance they need. Learn more about in-home care options by contacting Always Best Care of North Vancouver today at (778) 945-3010 and scheduling a free care consultation.