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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults. Alzheimer’s disease affects everyone differently, but it eventually leads to severe cognitive impairment and death.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it is also a rewarding experience.
Educate yourself about the disease.
The more you know about Alzheimer’s disease, the better equipped you will be to care for your loved one. There are many resources available online and in your community that can provide you with information and support.
People with Alzheimer’s disease are at risk of falls, wandering, and other accidents. It is important to create a safe and supportive environment for your loved one. This may involve removing tripping hazards, installing locks on doors, and using GPS tracking devices (such as medical alert bracelets or inserting Air Tag-like devices in shoes).
People with Alzheimer’s disease often thrive on routine. Establish a regular schedule for meals, activities, and bedtime. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety. (Tip: use colorful plates to help make food easily identifiable).
Alzheimer’s disease can cause people to behave in ways that are frustrating and confusing. It is important to be patient and understanding. Remember that your loved one is not trying to be difficult. (Try not to raise your voice—rather, use a calming tone as much as possible).
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be physically and emotionally demanding. It is important to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Make time for activities that you enjoy.
Even if your loved one cannot engage in conversations or activities like they used to, they still enjoy spending time with you. Make time to simply sit with your loved one, hold their hand, or listen to music together. (Music therapy has proven to be effective in calming/lessening anxiety + helps with activities such as reminiscing).
Tell your loved one that you love them and appreciate them. Let them know that you are there for them and will always support them.
Encourage your loved one to continue doing activities that they enjoy. Help them to stay connected with their loved ones and community.
No matter how small, celebrate your loved one’s accomplishments. This will help to boost their self-esteem and confidence.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it is also a rewarding experience. By following the tips above, you can provide your loved one with the care and support they need.
Life is a Journey. We are With You Every Step of The Way!
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you and your loved in the place they call home.
By: Laura Mantine, MD
During periods of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care for their loved ones. These caregivers provide the initial response and defense for individuals who are often battling chronic medical illnesses. Like many first responders, caregivers often experience stress due to heavy workloads, fatigue, and anxiety. There are important steps that caregivers can take to help manage and cope with this ongoing pressure.
Caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own physical health and emotional well-being. A caregiver can reduce transmission of a virus by diligent personal and patient hygiene. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently throughout the day has been shown to reduce viral spread. It is also important to wash your hands during food preparation, toileting, and blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. To be at your best, be sure to eat healthy, balanced meals, maintain a regular sleep routine, and find chances to exercise whenever possible. There is also a constant barrage of pandemic-focused news that can be overwhelming, so try to limit your intake to a certain time or times each day, and do not mistake social media opinion for fact. Remember to take care of yourself, as your loved one’s well-being relies on your ability to maintain your own.
Over any amount of time, caregiving can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Caregiver burnout can happen in any caregiver-patient relationship, but the risk is heightened in times of increased stress like the COVID-19 pandemic. When suffering from burnout, a caregiver may experience hopelessness, overwhelming anxiety, sleep problems, or difficulty coping with everyday tasks. Although caregiving is a major responsibility, it shouldn’t completely overtake an individual’s life. Make time for yourself and take breaks when possible. Use these spare moments to listen to your favorite music, read, or work on a hobby. Also, stay connected to friends and family. Social distancing doesn’t mean total isolation so reach out to friends and family regularly for casual chats and wellness checks. Consider spending time together virtually, whether by watching a movie over a video chat session or playing games together online. If you live with loved ones, find ways to help and support each other.
During these uncertain times, caregivers remain a valuable constant for their loved ones. Please stay physically and mentally healthy as you perform your crucial role.
“Family Caregiving During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Scott R Beach, Richard Schulz, Heidi Donovan, Ann-Marie Rosland. Gerontologist. 2021 Jul 13;61(5):650-660.
“Ensuring Adequate Palliative and Hospice Care During COVID-19 Surges.” Jean Abbott, MD, MH; Daniel Johnson, MD; Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH. JAMA. 2020;324(14):1393-1394.