Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease

Tips On Caring For A Senior Family Member With Alzheimer’s

As a progressive and degenerative brain disorder, Alzheimer’s inevitably results in a total loss of independence. This journey is a difficult one, both for Alzheimer patients and their family caregivers. Following are several strategies that caregivers can use to avoid becoming overwhelmed by this major responsibility.

Establish A Daily Routine

Establishing a daily routine will make Alzheimer’s care easier on all parties. This disease is characterized by a pervasive sense of disorientation and loss. Knowing what to expect can help people who suffer from Alzheimer’s avoid bouts of frustration, agitation and aggression. It will also make it easier for caregivers to effectively manage their time and to ensure that they have ample opportunity to tend to their own needs.

Encourage Your Loved One To Do Things On His Or Her Own

Though loss of independence is inevitable with this disease, this does not mean that seniors will peaceably surrender their autonomy. Thus, it is good for caretakers to encourage their loved ones to continue managing as much of their self-care as they possibly can. When small tasks become frustrating or prove too challenging, it is certainly okay to step in and offer assistance.

Offering to button a senior’s shirt when he is struggling with the closures is more effective than simply attempting to put his shirt on for him. Being too helpful without first asking permission can be seen as a violation of privacy. Although boundaries can get blurred as seniors require increasing assistance with their self-care, it is vital for caretakers to respect their space and their willingness to do things on their own or with minimal help.

Use Distraction

When seniors grow agitated, try using distraction to help them focus on a new subject that causes less anxiety. Distraction can include:

  • Offering seniors a favorite snack
  • Inviting them to look at photo albums to reconnect with their pasts
  • Suggesting a favorite outing
  • Taking out a favorite game, toy or other valued item
Maintain A Calm And Comfortable Living Environment

When sites, sounds and even smells become overwhelming, many Alzheimer’s suffers can experience confusion and emotional turmoil. Maintaining a calm environment will help you avoid unpleasant outbursts. When seniors start to appear agitated, turn down music and televisions or ask small children to leave the room. Clenching and unclenching the fists, muttering, rocking back and forth or waving the hands in the air are all signs that seniors with Alzheimer’s are experiencing a sensory overload and are nearing an outburst.

Use Plenty Of Positive Encouragement

Celebrate the accomplishments that your loved one makes, no matter how small these might seem. Positively reinforcing seniors with degenerative brain diseases is a great way to get them to try harder in other areas. Your praise will build confidence and help keep the patient active, motivated and engaged.

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