If you are caring for someone living with Alzheimer's disease, you know that as the disease progresses your loved one's ability to manage daily tasks will decline. Consider practical tips to help him or her maintain a sense of independence and dignity as he or she becomes dependent on you and other family members or caregivers.
A person with Alzheimer's disease might become agitated when once-simple tasks become difficult. To limit challenges and ease frustration:
Schedule wisely. Establish a routine to make each day less agitating and confusing. People with Alzheimer's disease can still learn and follow routines. Often it is best to schedule tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, when the person is most alert and refreshed. Allow some flexibility within the routine for spontaneous activities.
Take your time. Expect things to take longer than they used to. Allow the person with Alzheimer's disease to have frequent breaks. Schedule more time for tasks so that you don't need to hurry him or her.
Involve the person. Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, people with Alzheimer's disease 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 choices. Fewer options are better but give the person with Alzheimer's disease choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask if he or she prefers a hot or cold beverage, or ask if he or she would rather go for a walk or see a movie.
Provide simple instructions. People with Alzheimer's disease best understand clear, one-step communication.
Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV and minimize other distractions at mealtime and during conversations to make it easier for the person with Alzheimer's disease to focus.
Over time, a person living with dementia will become more dependent. But there's a lot you can do to maximize the quality of your interactions and reduce frustration. Try to stay flexible and adapt your routine and expectations as needed.
For example, if your loved one starts insisting on wearing the same outfit every day, consider buying a few identical outfits. If bathing is met with resistance, consider doing it less often. Relaxing your expectations can go a long way toward self-care and well-being.
You can make St. Valentine's Day special for the elder in your care by getting festive for holidays. Below are some suggestions which do not take much time to put together, are sentimentally appropriate, inside professional boundaries, within means of a tight budget, and not so predictable.
The gold standard is the timeless hand written message. This can take the form of a card (handmade or formally fancy) or letter written on clean or decorated paper. Think of the ways your elder is a stand out person, how they make you feel good, what you like about working with them, what you admire about how they live their life. Then simply tell them so straight from the heart.
Get a box of their favorite flavor of red Jello and make a tasty treat. Recipes for using Jello abound. Use the sugar free Jello, if necessary. If you use an old school mold for forming the jello into something artistic you will kick your presentation up a notch.
Balloons. Helium filled or blown up by you. Get more than one (one smacks of a kiddie treat), the more the merrier. Tie them together with ribbon or tie them to a lamps or chairs where they can be seen throughout the day. Lots of older folks have a sweet tooth, so if yours does present them with cookies or a box/bag of their favorite candy. Again, if necessary get a sugar free substitute. Let them enjoy them without interference, but within safe limits. Do not help yourself, unless they invite you to do, otherwise. The treat is for them.
Ask them what their favorite romantic movie is and download it for them. Ask them why it is their favorite. Use this activity as an opportunity to engage in conversation which takes an interest in their heart and soul. They might even share with you some charming stories from down memory lane.
Invite one of their friends or neighbors over. This third person might appreciate being included as you might make their day special, too. They can watch the movie, help eat the Jello or candy/cookies. Maybe they might share a cup or tea or coffee.
Ask your elder if they would like to take a walk through old photo albums and tell you about their loves and loved ones from days gone by. Show you care by actively listening to them and asking questions about the people and events that meant so much to them. Ask politely about sweet memories from the past like their first kiss, first crush, first love.
Dress them in red. Use red place-mats and napkins and plates, etc. Serve red foods.
If transportation is not a hassle, go to to the nicest mall in your area and have a treat, people watch and admire the shop displays. Take along any mobility assistance equipment that might come in handy, just in case.Show them you cared enough about them to learn more about how to care for them even better than you could naturally.
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There are no clear cut answers whether Alzheimer’s and dementia can be prevented. More large scale studies need to be done and promising research is in the works. But these habits certainly cannot hurt and can improve your quality of life in general.
Stay physically active.
Get some sun to keep Vitamin D levels up.
Control alcohol intake.
Keep your brain exercised.
Keep track of blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.
Try to stay away from cold places. Changes in the body that come with aging can make it harder for older adults to be aware of getting cold.
Check the weather forecasts for windy and cold weather. Try to stay inside or in a warm place on cold and windy days. If you have to go out, wear warm clothes including a hat and gloves. A waterproof coat can help you stay warm if it's cold and snowy.
Wear several layers of loose clothing when it's cold. The layers will trap warm air between them. Don't wear tight clothing because it can keep your blood from flowing freely. This can lead to loss of body heat.
Ask your doctor how the medicines you are taking affect body heat. Some medicines used by older people can increase the risk of accidental hypothermia. These include drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, or nausea. Some over-the-counter cold remedies can also cause problems.
Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don't eat well, you might have less fat under your skin. Body fat helps you to stay warm.