Alzheimer’s is an incredibly common illness – in America alone it affects more 16 million people. It can be a devastating illness that ends up requiring a lot of care, provided both by professionals, but also by friends and family members. This article will go into the best ways that you can support your loved ones who may have been diagnosed Alzheimer’s.
Does Your Family Member Need Additional Help?
There may well become a time in your loved one’s life when their Alzheimer’s gets to the point that it requires hands-on care. If this is the case, then you should consider moving them into an assisted living facility. A lot of these facilities, such as Belmont Village Senior Living, which offers senior care in Calabasas, offer memory care as a living option for residents. This means loved ones with Alzheimer’s will be given hands-on care and assistance when they need it.
How to Take Care of Your Family Member
If you do want to provide some support to your family member who may be living with Alzheimer’s, then practicing the following should help:
- Keep a Routine
Planning for everyday activities can be incredibly difficult for people who have Alzheimer’s and they also generally prefer to live a life that consists of familiar habits, places and tasks rather than having to go anywhere new. As such, keeping a daily routine can be very helpful when it comes to getting them to focus on activities that they find meaningful. This is because when they wake up in the morning, they will know what they should expect. Doing this will make them feel a lot more comfortable and could also lessen their frustration and improve their mood.
Consider the following when planning your daily routine:
- What they like and what they dislike?
- How did they used to spend their days?
- What time of the day do they feel freshest? Activities such as bathing and going to the doctor should be done when they feel the most rested.
- Regular times that they usually wake up and go to sleep. You shouldn’t let them nap several times throughout the day or for longer periods as this could disrupt their sleep later and alter their sense of day and night.
In keeping with the above, it is also a good idea to place familiar objects around the house such as family photos and mementos. By doing this you can make them feel a lot more secure and connected.
Finally, familiar smells will also have a similar effect as they invoke visions of past times. These smells can be things such as their favorite desert or a dinner that means a lot to them.
- Limit Excess Sound
This is another way that you can make your loved ones with Alzheimer’s feel more comfortable as too much noise can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming for them. This could come from the radio, TV or be the result of a lot of people talking at the same time. There are few ways that you can limit excess sound, including:
- Turning down the volume on the TV.
- Turning off the TV at mealtimes or while you’re talking to one another.
- Turning off the TV if the show is upsetting or violent as they might become overwhelmed by the images and sounds and mistake them for being real.
- Choose music that isbn’t interrupted by commercials that could be confusing (in other words, play music from CD players and streaming services).
- Shut the windows and doors when you are listening to music or watching TV as this will shut out any competing noise.
- Allow fewer people in the room during gatherings.
- Be Patient
Alzheimer’s can make it incredibly hard for people to improve their skills on a select task or remember any directions that they might have been given. As such, your loved one is more than likely going to struggle with remembering a lot of different things, such as where they are, who you are and how you both got there. It is important that you are patient in these moments as repeating yourself over and over again can be annoying, but you need to remember that they are not doing it on purpose.
Some of the best ways you can be understanding include:
- Only focus on one activity at a time and guide them through it step by step if they happen to get confused.
- Be sure when you are preparing a schedule for the day that you allow more time for breaks.
- Don’t criticize or correct them if they do something that you happen to find meaningless or don’t enjoy.
- Don’t try to argue or use logic if their behavior seems somewhat unreasonable.
- If your loved one does something they enjoy, but they aren’t doing it very well, don’t point out that they aren’t doing it very well.
- Don’t correct them if they forget something, or say something that doesn’t make any sense to you.
- Be sure that you don’t put words in their mouth, or rush to fill in any blanks that they may have in their memory.
- Give Them Ways to Help Them Connect
It is common for people with Alzheimer’s to struggle when it comes to expressing their thoughts and feelings as their disease goes on. One of the things that you can do to help them with this is by encouraging them to communicate and feel connected with you. Simple things such as making eye contact and calling them by their name, holding their hand while you talk, asking them engaging questions and not talking about them in front of others as if they’re not there can really help people connect with you. In doing this they will be much happier, as they will be encouraged more to discuss their feelings and talk about anything that might be bothering them.
Though helping a loved one in their time of need can be stressful, help is at hand.