Your friend or family member has Alzheimer’s Disease. You’re wanting to help, but you’re not quite sure how. That’s why you’ve arrived here: you’re looking for advice on the matter.
Fortunately, we can provide it to you. Without further ado, here are 7 tips for helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.
1. Be Patient
Alzheimer’s can change a person entirely. Not only might they suffer from confusion and aggravation, but they may also grow angrier and more combative. As such, caretakers of Alzheimer’s patients need to be very patient with them.
Yes, you’re going to feel slighted from time to time. Yes, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. But regardless, you need to do everything in your power to keep your cool.
Don’t engage in fights. Instead, ask how your loved one is feeling and how you can help.
Don’t take things personally. Instead, understand that the disease is the cause of most offenses.
Taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient is far from easy. But doing it with patience can make a world of difference.
2. Communicate Thoughtfully
Alzheimer’s patients tend to experience a great deal of shame around their illness. They may feel as though they lack intelligence or that they’re incapable of doing things that they used to do. This can provoke feelings of low self-esteem in affected individuals, leading to depression and other such issues.
Your job as a caretaker to an Alzheimer’s patient is to communicate thoughtfully so as not to upset him or her. What does “communicate thoughtfully” mean? It means to refrain from using condescending tones, to refrain from asking questions about the past, and to be as deliberate in your communication as possible.
Vague and abstract communication will not work with an Alzheimer’s patient. That means that irony and sarcasm are off the table, as are slang words and expressions.
Generally speaking, you should be communicating as though you are a customer service representative or an instruction manual. Use direct, informative language void of complex literary devices.
3. Facilitate a Routine
The more severe that Alzheimer’s Disease becomes, the more difficult it is for the affected to feel comfortable in his or her environment. Note, though, that this can be combatted by sticking to a regular schedule. As such, as an Alzheimer’s caretaker, you need to facilitate a routine.
Wake up at the same time, perform the bathroom routine in the same order, eat meals at the same time, participate in the same general activities, and, of course, maintain the same bedtime. The less variation there is throughout the day, the better off the patient will be.
When you do alter the schedule, make sure that the Alzheimer’s patient feels comfortable with the alteration. Foreign activities will likely frighten the patient and could result in a blowup.
4. Help to Administer Drugs
There are all types of drugs for Alzheimers. In all likelihood, the Alzheimer’s patient in your life is taking one or more of these drugs.
The trouble, however, is that Alzheimer’s patients tend to forget to take their drugs. This is where you come in. As the caretaker, you can manage and administer your loved one’s medications, ensuring that he or she is getting the right drugs at the right times.
This alone can be a major help, as failing to take the necessary drugs can cause an Alzheimer’s patient to decline rapidly. So keep everything sorted and establish a schedule; your role in this is vital.
5. Help the Patient to Feel Needed
Oftentimes, when Alzheimer’s takes over a person’s life, that person begins to feel useless. He or she struggles to do things that he or she once did, and therefore experiences a sort of inferiority complex.
How can you get past this? By making the patient feel needed, of course. How do you do this? By allowing him or her to help in as many ways as possible.
Maybe he or she can still do laundry? Perhaps he or she can still cook or bake? Whatever capabilities remain in the affected individual, you need to cater to them.
Don’t do everything there is to do. That’s not good for the Alzheimer’s patient in your life, and it’s certainly not good for you.
6. Have a Good Time
Alzheimer’s is far from favorable, but it shouldn’t perpetually be treated as a serious, insurmountable obstacle. The affected individual is still a human being and still needs to have human experiences. As such, part of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is to, quite simply, having a good time.
Keep up a banter, watch TV together, and participate in various activities. This will not only help the patient, but it will also help you. Going through life without fun is a surefire way to breed depression, resentment, and an overall toxic environment.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can be exceedingly exhausting. It’s just the nature of the illness and of caretaking in general. Simply put, caregiver burnout is a real thing.
And what happens when you get burnt out? Well, for one, you suffer, becoming depressed, tired, lonely, and experience a variety of other negative things. But for two, you start to resent the person who’s bringing on the burnout (ie. the Alzheimer’s patient), causing you to treat him or her in an improper manner.
You need time for yourself; you need to do things that you enjoy; you need to get ample sleep; you need to eat right. Failure to do any of these things will blow up in your face and could lead to a toxic situation.
Alzheimer’s Disease Sufferers Need All the Help They Can Get
Alzheimer’s Disease is a devastating illness that drastically affects the lives of those who have it. It demands all the help it can get and by using the tips above, you can be the one to provide such help.
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