Alzheimer’s disease is often a challenging and heartbreaking diagnosis, not only for the patient but for their family as well. If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease you probably already know that your life will never be the same. But you can still enjoy the time you have with your loved one. There are many things you can do to make their life easier while they go through these many changes. Here are some excellent tips to help you get through this difficult time and still be the support that your loved one so desperately needs right now.
1. Donate Your Car
The Alzheimer’s Association works very hard to create programs that provide extra care and support for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. They are also involved with advanced research; seeking a way to eliminate the disease altogether. Whether or not you have been personally affected by Alzheimer’s, you can help this association in their efforts by donating a car specifically to the Alzheimer’s Association charity.
2. Get Support Emotionally
When dealing with the news of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis you may experience many worries, fears and frustrations. Getting emotional support is very important to help you heal, regain control of your feelings and be the strength that your loved one needs you to be for them. You can join a support group, talk to other friends and loved ones who have or are also experiencing the same emotions that you are having. Talk things out, take your time to recover and know that you are not alone in this.
3. Plan Ahead for What’s to Come
As much you don’t want to think about it, you have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. That means discussing healthcare, financial decisions, care-giving options, living situations and anything else that is vital to the welfare of the Alzheimer’s patient. It is also important to find out everything your loved one wants you to do before they lose the memory of what they want. Write down all of their wishes and if necessary have an attorney present to help answer questions and give guidance.
4. Create a Sense of Consistency by Forming a Structured Day to Day Routine
Having a steady, daily schedule is extremely helpful for Alzheimer’s patients and should be implemented as soon as possible. You can ask those who work with Alzheimer’s patients for ideas on how to create a steady routine. Do things that are familiar and do them in a simple order. For example waking up, dressing, bathing, bedtime, activities and meals should all happen at the same times each day. Of course, not every day can be exactly the same but if you follow your instincts and do your best to provide structure your loved one should have minimum trouble adjusting to everyday life.
5. Provide Easy Going Sensory Experiences and Socialization
Among your day to day routines it’s important to include activities that provide sensory and social elements for your loved one. Do things that they used to enjoy doing such as painting, drawing, playing ball, watching birds, gardening, taking photographs, etc. You will most likely have to adjust the activity based on the current ability of your loved one. Vary the activities from day to day so that they are not overstimulated in one area over another. Being around friends and family is good for the patient and also good for you as the caregiver. You can have a bit of a break and they can interact with other people. Even if they forget the people around them it is still stimulating to be with people. Just make sure that your loved one feels safe and comfortable in the group that they’re in.
6. Communicate Clearly and Patiently
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progresses, the ability to communicate begins to dissolve and the patient struggles to express the things they need. It’s important to be sensitive to this struggle and do your part to help them. Listen patiently, gently help them find the words they’re trying to say and keep your voice loving and respectful. Even though their mental capacity is changing, they are still amazing person you used to know and respect. Repeat yourself as often as you need to in a calm and collected manner and try not to be offended when they say or do things that seem out of character for them. Remembering that your loved one is no longer in control of what they say and do can really help you become more accepting of their condition.
7. Get the Right Kind of Help
When your loved one reaches the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s they will need constant care 24/7. There are multiple facilities and resources that can help you take care of your loved as their state worsens. In-home help is where a trained nurse can come to your home and watch your loved one for you when you are unable to. Day programs are also available for you to drop off your loved one and have them watched and cared for during the daytime. Nursing homes and assistant living centers can really ease your stress and worry as they have around the clock caregivers giving it their all to help their patients and provide them with many activities. Ask around and check references online to help you come to the right decision for your loved one’s specific needs.
From personally taking on the role as caregiver to supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, your efforts are recognized and appreciated. The challenges of Alzheimer’s disease are probably most difficult for those in association with the person diagnosed. But you have many people, facilities and websites that can offer you the support that you need as you give of your time and your abilities to help the person you love.