The month of September is World Alzheimer’s Month, which means now is a great time to get educated about how to care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia.
In Saugus and elsewhere around the U.S., September will be a time for acknowledging the severe nature of the disease and finding ways to cope with the damage it does to your loved one. Home health care providers have usually been trained in how to handle Alzheimer’s patients, and they are aware of best practices as well as things to avoid. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the behaviors that should be avoided, as well as those that should be encouraged.
Memory loss is one of the first markers of Alzheimer’s. The brain doesn’t seem to function as it did in years past. Things that were easy become more difficult if not near impossible. This can lead to anger and frustration for the person experiencing the issue. Do try to simplify and streamline any tasks your loved one is trying to perform, don’t rush the process.
Do try to provide a calm, quiet environment to help your loved one regain their focus. Slow your speech and speak gently while tackling the task at hand, breaking down the steps into simple actions that your loved one can do.
Having trouble finding the right word is something that happens to all of us on occasion. However, for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease, this occasional blunder may become more common. The changes they are experiencing in their brains become a hindrance to clear communication. Do remember that this is not in their control. Speak clearly in short sentences giving simple choices for answers.
Do maintain a pleasant tone of voice but don’t speak down or belittle the person with “baby talk” or exaggerated speech.
Don’t remind your loved one that they forgot or have said something before. Do use patience when communicating with a person who has Alzheimer’s but don’t become frustrated if the process takes longer than you believe is necessary.
Wandering Or Becoming Lost
As adults, we are always on the move, shopping, visiting friends, running errands, and we think nothing of a quick trip to the corner store. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this can be complicated by the changes happening in their brain. What was once familiar pathways traveled over their lifetime can become overwhelming and foreign.
Do try to set your loved one up for success by getting them an ID bracelet with their name, home address, or phone number of someone who can assist if they become disoriented or lost.
Do get help from your community. Ask friends or neighbors to keep an eye out for your loved one if they see them outside or walking away from their home. Consider installing a bell or chime on doors leading to the outside of your home.
Don’t leave keys in the vehicle or out in the open. Do secure keys out of sight, including those for utility vehicles such as lawnmowers or ATVs.
Do Keep Some Things In Mind
A person with Alzheimer’s Disease will need extra care and attention, especially as the disease progresses. This is not their choice and their actions are not personally motivated against you or others.
If you are the caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s, make the effort to build a network of resources that you can call on when necessary. Your caregiving duties necessitate that you not only care for your loved one but for yourself as well. Alzheimer’s symptoms are progressive and will worsen over time. Be prepared and ready to invest additional time and effort as the disease worsens into its later stages.
Look into respite care or other services that are available to assist you on the road ahead. Prepare yourself for the possibility that your loved one will need more care than you are able to provide and research professional care ahead of time to know what to expect.
You can find additional resources at Alzheimer’s Association.