Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can be a long, stressful, and emotional journey. But, if this is your journey, don’t feel alone. There are more than 16 million family caregivers in the U.S caring for someone with dementia.
Just as each individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from caregiver to caregiver. Thankfully, there are strategies that can help make your path as a caregiver rewarding.
The Mayo Clinic offers these strategies to family caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia:
A person with dementia might become agitated when once-simple tasks become difficult. To limit challenges and ease frustration:
Establish a daily routine. Some tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, are more manageable when the person is most alert and refreshed. Allow some flexibility for spontaneous activities or particularly difficult days.
Take your time
Anticipate that tasks may take longer than they used to and schedule more time for them. Allow time for breaks during tasks.
Involve the person
Allow the person with dementia to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, they might be able to set the table with the help of visual cues or dress independently if you lay out clothes in the order they go on.
Provide some, but not too many, choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask if they prefer a hot or cold beverage, or ask if he or they would rather go for a walk or see a movie.
Provide simple instructions
People with dementia best understand clear, one-step communication.
Avoid multiple or prolonged naps during the day. This can minimize the risk of getting days and nights reversed.
Turn off the TV and minimize other distractions at mealtime and during conversations to make it easier for the person with dementia to focus.
Over time, a person with dementia will become more dependent. To reduce frustration, stay flexible and adapt your routine and expectations as needed. For example, if they want to wear the same outfit every day, consider buying a few identical outfits. If bathing is met with resistance, consider doing it less often.
Create a safe environment
Dementia impairs judgment and problem-solving skills, increasing a person’s risk of injury. To promote safety:
Avoid scatter rugs, extension cords, and any clutter that could cause falls. Install handrails or grab bars in critical areas.
Install locks on cabinets that contain anything potentially dangerous, such as medicine, alcohol, guns, toxic cleaning substances, dangerous utensils, and tools.
Check water temperature
Lower the thermostat on the hot-water heater to prevent burns.
Take fire safety precautions
Keep matches and lighters out of reach. If the person with dementia smokes, always supervise smoking. Make sure a fire extinguisher is accessible, and the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.
Focus on individualized care
Each person with Alzheimer’s disease will experience its symptoms and progression differently. Tailor these practical tips to your family member’s needs.
Patience and flexibility — along with self-care and the support of friends and family — can help you deal with the challenges and frustrations ahead.
Dignified In-Home Personal Care for Seniors in Bradenton & Manatee County
First In Care understands your challenges as a family caregiver for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Our professional caregivers deliver compassionate personal care services for seniors in the comfort of their own homes. Contact us today to learn more about how First In Care can support you and your family. We’ll be happy to schedule a FREE in-home assessment to discuss your loved one’s needs.