Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that robs a person of the ability to function and live independently. When someone first gets Alzheimer’s disease, the person will still most likely be able to do for themselves, but will have occasional lapses in the ability to remember simple functions or daily tasks and may need monitoring. However over time the Alzheimer’s will progress and the ability to function independently will dwindle, causing more dependence on the caregiver.
Here are some helpful tips for caregivers of people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
To help reduce frustrations by the Alzheimer’s sufferer, schedule things such as doctor visits during an appropriate time frame with their schedules so that it doesn’t interrupt their routine. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease like having a schedule, “a normal routine” that way things are less confusing for them. They usually do best if only on certain days they do errands, such as doctor visits.
Allow the person suffering from Alzheimer’s to help as much as possible. Involve the person with as many tasks as possible, perhaps they can help do some of the cleaning. This allows them to feel less frustrated. Most Alzheimer’s people hate feeling like a burden.
Limit the choices they have to make, such as selection of food or clothing to wear. It makes their decisions much easier and therefore less frustrating for them.
Expect things will take twice as long to do so you don’t get frustrated at them. There is no need to hurry them. Provide them simple instructions, talk to them about every step your taking. Try to explain things in simpler terms.
Being flexible about things is important too. Alzheimer’s sufferers have a hard time from day to day remembering things. What may have been okay one day, may suddenly not be the way they want it the next day.
Adapt as you need to, for them.
Relax your way of doing things, don’t get frustrated with them. Try switching things around so they don’t get tunnel vision on certain things and they stay open to change, at your direction. But always try to stay calm. Alzheimer’s disease impairs their ability to solve problems and sometimes they may get into situations that they are unaware of causes injury.
Install handrails, keep clutter off the floor and wipe up any spills promptly. Install locks on cabinets, doors, etc. Remove plug in appliances from the bathroom, keep tabs on the water temperature. Make sure you have an ample first aid kit around, make sure you have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
Use a calm voice when talking to them, use short simple sentences but don’t talk to them like they’re a baby.
Minimize distractions such as noise from the TV and stereo. Don’t slam things like doors or cabinets, sudden noises frighten people with Alzheimer’s.
Help them talk to you, if they are having trouble telling you something, give them aid in getting their thoughts out but don’t cut them off. Try to handle things in a positive way and not demeaning.
Plan a routine around bathing. Be extremely respectful of them and very gentle. Allow plenty of time and stay calm. Help them with bathing, but allow them to help themselves if at all possible and talking about other things to keep their minds off the finer washing aspects, sometimes helps. That way they don’t get frustrated as much and they don’t mind if they are a little rushed so they can get on to other things on the daily list. Make it as comfortable as you can and make it as much of a relaxing experience as you possibly can.
Encourage them to help with dressing if they can, make it again a daily routine in which you can discuss other things to hurry the process along. Don’t pressure or rush them needlessly, remain calm. Arrange the clothes in order of the way they go on. Choose clothing that is simple for them to get on and for you to help with, such as elastic waistbands.
Keep schedules light with activities, such as walks, visits to doctor, going to store occasionally maybe.
Allow for plenty of eating time sometimes Alzheimer’s sufferers don’t have too much of an appetite, since they forget that they need to eat and tend to stop occasionally. Encourage them to finish their food and pick things they will eat easily. Don’t over fill their plates.
As Alzheimer’s progresses many people who suffer with the disease start to have incontinence. This can be upsetting for the caregivers and the sufferer. Be sure to discuss this with the physician once it starts. Make a routine for taking the person to the bathroom, such as every 3 or 4 hours. Don’t wait for them to ask, just take them and let them know this is the time when we need to go to the bathroom. Watch for signs of restlessness or urgency and adjust your routine accordingly.
Be understanding when mishaps or accidents occur. Stay as calm as you can be and as reassuring as possible.
To help prevent nighttime accidents, limit fluids after dinner. If your going to be out doing errands make sure you allow for bathroom breaks appropriately. Buy incontinence pads and garments for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s. They make some really good throw away pads now and they help quite a bit with accidents.
The tips are basically endless on how to handle a person suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. The easiest way to find some helpful hints and information is to go online and do some research. There are a number of online websites that help with caregiving and support information for those who have loved ones suffering with the disease.
References for this article include, WebMD, Mayoclinic.com, Alzheimers.about.com and Helpguide.org