Receiving a diagnosis of early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease can be confusing, frightening, and disheartening. If you or your loved one been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), you may feel like you are alone with no options. However, with the right education, preparation, and patience, your loved one can live a long and healthy life with AD.
Here are some practical ways you can care for a loved one suffering from AD:
- Educate yourself on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The first thing to do after a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease is take the time to research. Learn about the symptoms, effects and the best methods of treatment and care. Ask your loved one’s physician any questions about their specific case, and ask them for their recommendations for how to best manage their symptoms.
- Establish a predictable daily routine. Have a set schedule for your loved one to wake up, get dressed, eat meals, and do other daily activities. This way, they will always know what to expect and avoids unneeded confusion and frustration. Allow for extra time for each activity so they do not feel rushed.
- Encourage some type of physical activity. Exercising is important for both physical and mental health—even if it’s just a light walk. Incorporate a physical activity that your loved one enjoys into their daily routine. This could be anything from gardening to water aerobics, as long as it gets them active. Always have water available and be on the lookout for signs of exhaustion.
- Keep things simple. Ask and say one thing at a time in a soft, calming voice. Keep your loved one in the conversation, but try not to overwhelm them with questions or plans. Always address them by name, establish eye contact, and speak to them directly—this allows them to exercise their communication skills.
- Allow independence when possible. While it may seem easier to just do everything yourself, it’s important to focus on your loved one’s strengths and allow them to do as many things as they can by themselves. It may still be necessary to remind them of appointments and other important errands, though.
- Be flexible and patient. AD can cause unpredictable mood swings and behaviors, and it is best not to show frustration at outbursts. Remember that your loved one may not be able to take part in the activity you planned, or may get upset with you for no reason. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or discouraged, take a deep breath, count to ten, or leave the room for a moment if it’s safe.
- Take care of yourself, too. Caring for someone with AD is a full-time job that can lead to caregiver burnout. If you find yourself getting tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, set aside time to rest and talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
Even though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it is still not a death sentence. Patients can live for a long time after being diagnosed, so it’s important to learn how to manage the symptoms and to improve quality of life. With the right attitude, awareness, and preparedness, you can ensure that your loved one is properly cared for and enjoys their life.
For more questions on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, or if you think in-home care is a good option for your loved one suffering from AD, Hospice of South Texas is here to help. Call our dedicated team at our Victoria office at 361.572.4300 or our Hallettsville office at 361.798.2077. We will answer any questions, support you, and walk this journey with you.