Alzheimer’s can be debilitating for those who live with it and their families. It’s a brain disease that slowly diminishes a person’s memory, thinking and reasoning skills. It’s typically diagnosed in adults ages 65 and older, but can occur in people younger than that. Common signs of Alzheimer’s include frequent memory loss, difficulty performing tasks or solving problems, and an inability to identify people they know, even if they’re close friends or family.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million people living with the disease; that number is projected to be at 14 million by 2050. It’s also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Whether your loved one starts showing signs or is officially diagnosed, you may play some role in caring for them before you find a professional who can. While it’s not always easy, understanding Alzheimer’s and how it affects your loved one’s ability to function is crucial.
It requires a personal and compassionate approach
Because this disease revolves around a person’s ability to think, identify and communicate with others, a personal and compassionate approach is necessary when caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Like any other person, those with Alzheimer’s have their preferences and routines they like to follow. It can help them retain some memory and make sense of their surroundings. Unfortunately, if their preferences aren’t met or their routine gets thrown off, some can become upset and aggressive. If this happens with your loved one, it’s best to divert their attention to something else rather than get combative with them.
Caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s also requires patience. Because people with Alzheimer’s have memory issues, it can be easy for them to forget what they were thinking or doing, even if it was recent. It can be frustrating at times, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t become irritated and try to correct them. This can also cause the person with Alzheimer’s to become frustrated and less likely to cooperate with you.
Care tips for your loved one with Alzheimer’s
Your loved one’s Alzheimer’s affects them in their own unique way, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, these are some crucial tips that can help anyone providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s:
- Learn different ways to communicate with them: If your loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, they may seem mostly normal at first. But as the disease progresses, their ability to formulate coherent thoughts and feelings will likely diminish. Because of this, it’s essential to develop both verbal and nonverbal ways of communicating. This can allow you to get a better grasp of what they’re asking for, especially if their speech starts to decline.
- Keep them entertained: People with Alzheimer’s are known for wandering. We’ve all heard stories of memory care residents wandering out of a nursing home and putting themselves in danger. Wandering can occur when a person with Alzheimer’s begins to feel bored, causing them to wander off in search of physical or psychological stimulation. To avoid this, work to find different activities they can engage in throughout the day. This could include anything from supervised walks and board games to watching TV.
- Give them foods they can eat: Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s memory in more ways than you’d think. For instance, the disease can make people forget how to chew and swallow, which can be problematic if not addressed. Your loved one can regain those skills by working with a speech therapist. But until their chewing and swallowing improves, you may want to stick with softer foods like mashed potatoes, oatmeal and pudding.
- Ensure they’re regularly eating: On top of chewing and swallowing, you want to make sure your loved one is eating enough. A lack of food and water can increase the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. To combat this, you may want to give them smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Being caring and compassionate is half the battle
Dealing with Alzheimer’s can be hard on anyone. But with the right care and approach, in-home nursing staff can make a world of difference for people with Alzheimer’s and their families.
At Pinnacle Home Care, we provide compassionate and professional home care to seniors from all walks of life. This can allow you to rest easy at night, as you can count on us to ensure your loved one gets the care and treatment they deserve.
For more information about our services, check out our website today and sign up for a consultation.