If you’ve recently found out your loved one has Alzheimer’s, there are a million questions now racing through your mind. You have no experience in taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s, so where do you begin? Read on for a few simple tips on how to care for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Remember, When One Sense is Lost, Another Takes Precedence
Dealing with Alzheimer’s is difficult for you and your loved one. There are going to be physical and emotional functions they will no longer be capable of controlling. As you and your loved one may want to give up, remember, just as one’s hearing seems to improve when they lose sight, they will gain other capabilities. Don’t let one loss bring down your loved one. Find alternative ways to do things. They should not be left out of family gatherings or duties from around the home. Try to keep them in their normal routines.
Truthfully, communication with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is difficult from the moment you hear the news. If you’ve never dealt with an Alzheimer’s patient, you don’t know what to expect. How do you break the news to them and your family? What do you do when they stop understanding and following along with what you are saying?
Remember, it’s not that they don’t know the words. So please don’t talk to them like you would to a child. You also should never yell at them. Instead, speak in a calm and reassuring tone. When engaging in conversation, it’s best to do so with minimal distractions around.
Turning off the television will help them focus on just you two. State their name often to keep their attention during the conversation. Speak slowly and directly towards them. Make your sentences short so that they don’t have too much information to process at once. Then, allow them to respond to your comments or questions.
Often you will feel as though you’re taking care of a child. However, the bathing process between a child and senior are surely different. You are dealing with someone stronger and more headstrong willed than a child. If they don’t’ want to bathe, it could be because it’s confusing or frightening. So your best step is to prepare them for the experience.
You’ll find that consistency goes a long way with Alzheimer’s patients. Create a bath or shower schedule and stick to it. Before you start to do anything, inform them of your actions. So if it’s starting the water, washing their back, or grabbing the towel from the bar, let them know.
Bring all the essentials into the bathroom with you. This way you don’t need to go in and out of the bathroom. The more organized you are the calmer they will be.
Dressing a person with Alzheimer’s can present a challenge as well, however, if done right, it can be an easy task. The key to dressing an Alzheimer’s patient is to dress them comfortably. This is also an opportunity for them to feel secure and in charge about their lives. They can make a decision about themselves, from the undergarments they wear to the shoes on their feet.
Again, have a consistent schedule and process together for them to put their clothing on for the day or night. At the beginning of the week, place several outfits out into a section of the closet. This will be the clothing you expect them to wear, yet give them the opportunity to select it for the day. If you find they have favorite clothing items, perhaps a particular shirt, buy multiples. It will definitely relieve the stress from you needing to wash three or four times a week to ensure it’s clean each day.
If you find they are more upset if they aren’t able to dress themselves on their own, be mindful of the attire you set out for them. For example, clothing with lots of buttons, zippers, and strings can be frustrating for them. Opt for clothing with little to none. Velcro and elastic waist banded clothing is every caretaker’s friend.
Also, make sure you allow enough time for them to get dressed. Trying to rush them will frustrate them, and it could spiral to other unfortunate behaviors throughout your day.
If there’s ever a time to need patience with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s, it’s during mealtime. Some seniors want to eat all day while others don’t want to eat at all. You’ll need to find ways to balance their diets. Your loved one may enjoy watching television during this time. However, it’s a distraction and will make the process that much harder and longer.
Work out a deal with them and offer frequent reminders. Tell them you both will watch a particular television show once they’ve finished eating. This helps them focus on eating, chewing, and holding their utensils correctly.
Be sure to have a variety of choices available. For instance, if you prepare an entire meal with meat, potatoes, and vegetables, have a can of soup ready. Do not give them bland food either. If they are on a restricted diet with limited sugar or salt intake, read up and watch cooking television shows to see how you can substitute and offer tasty food. Many foods you can change the food’s texture, flavors, and colors to make your loved one happy.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s just requires patience, understanding, and researching ways to make them comfortable.
Do you know of anyone caring for someone with Alzheimer’s? How did it make you feel the first time you found out? What was something amazing you noticed about their caretaking skills?