We know caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease at home is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as you cope with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. Learning patience for loved ones with Alzheimers is critical to both the caregiver’s health as well as your patient. Here are some of our suggestions to help for caring for a patient with Alzheimers… and we’d love to hear your suggestions, too.
Have a Plan
Having a plan for getting through the day can help caregivers cope. Many caregivers have found it helpful to use strategies for dealing with difficult behaviors and stressful situations. Through trial and error, you will find that some of the following tips work, while others do not. Each person with Alzheimer’s is unique and will respond differently, and each person changes over the course of the disease. Do the best you can, and remind yourself to take breaks.
Trying to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenge. Both understanding and being understood may be difficult. Here are 5 tips for better communication:
- Choose simple words and short sentences and use a gentle, calm tone of voice.
- Avoid talking to the person with Alzheimer’s like a baby or talking about the person as if he or she weren’t there.
- Minimize distractions and noise—such as the television or radio—to help the person focus on what you are saying.
- Make eye contact and call the person by name, making sure you have his or her attention before speaking.
- Try to frame questions and instructions in a positive way.
Incorporating exercise into the daily routine has benefits for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and you! Not only can it improve health, but it also can provide a meaningful activity for both of you to share.
- Think about what kind of physical activities you both enjoy, perhaps walking, swimming, tennis, dancing, or gardening. Determine the time of day and place where this type of activity would work best.
- Be realistic in your expectations. Build slowly, perhaps just starting with a short walk around the yard, for example, before progressing to a walk around the block.
- Be aware of any discomfort or signs of overexertion. Talk to the person’s doctor if this happens.
- Allow as much independence as possible, even if it means a less-than-perfect garden or a scoreless tennis match.
- See what kinds of exercise programs are available in your area. Senior centers may have group programs for people who enjoy exercising with others. Local malls often have walking clubs and provide a place to exercise when the weather is bad.
Visitors are important to people with Alzheimer’s. They may not always remember who the visitors are, but the human connection has value. Here are some ideas to share with someone who is planning to visit a person with the disease.
- Plan the visit for the time of day when the person with Alzheimer’s is at his or her best.
- Consider bringing along an activity, such as something familiar to read or photo albums to look at, but be prepared to skip it if necessary.
- Be calm and quiet. Avoid using a loud tone of voice or talking to the person as if he or she were a child.
- Try to establish eye contact and call the person by name to get his or her attention.
- Remind the person who you are if he or she doesn’t seem to recognize you.
If you or a loved one need extra help, our personalized and custom health home care is a great option.
Hopkinton Home Care wants to answer your personal and confidential questions. Only after we learn what you need can we let you know how we can meet those needs. Give us a call: 508-544-4650.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease teaches us many great unexpected lessons — both as caregivers and family members — that leave a lasting impression on our lives.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from loved ones?
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