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 some of the following for 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.
How to reduce Frustation when caring for your aging loved one:
A person with Alzheimer's disease may become agitated when things that used to be a breeze for them start becoming difficult. When caring for an aging loved one, having and practicing patience with them is a necessary part of the process.
Understanding that your loved one is afflicted by dementia or Alzheimer's and that it isn't their fault can help put what they are going through in perspective.
When caring for aging loved ones, it's also important to not take the way they may be treating you personally or as a personal attack, if affected by this disease. There will be periods of lucidity and things may feel "normal" for an hour or so, and good and bad days will happen, its the very nature of this degenerative memory and brain condition.
To limit challenges and ease frustration follow some of the tips below:
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, and understand there may be days where no matter what, it may be challenging to get them to do much. Let them rest if they need rest, and support and engage them whenever possible. Good days can still be had with an aging loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer's.
Take your time and allow them to take their 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 them along, especially if they are having a particularly difficult day.
Continue to involve your loved one in their own activities of daily living.
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, or let them wash a few dishes or fold laundry if they want too, and are able. Ensure their safety at all times; for example, don't let them wash knives or glass items, as those could cause physical harm and injuries if broken.
Fewer options are better but give the person with Alzheimer's disease choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask them if they prefer a hot or cold beverage, or ask if they would rather go for a walk or see a movie. Avoid giving them too many items or choices, as that can be overwhelming and cause distress for your loved one.
Provide simple instructions.
People with Alzheimer's disease best understand clear, one-step communication. When applicable, help guide them with the use of visuals or body language to help them undertand instructions.
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.
Be flexible, patient, understanding, compassionate and kind.
Over time, a person living with dementia will become increasingly dependent on others for daily health and wellness needs, including personal care such as toileting, ambulation, showering, eating and drinking and more.
But there's still a lot you can do to maximize their quality of life and engage them as they are able. 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.
If you are still struggling with the daily demands of caring for an aging or sick loved one, reach out for help. You don't have to do everything alone, and you may be surprised at the amount of resources available to you for assistance. For caregiving resources, we recommend checking out AARP or getting in contact with your local Council of Aging Organization who may be able to further assist you with not only taking care of your loved one, but practicing self care for yourself as well. If you have a loved one who needs in home care services, reach out to us and we can help you get a plan together to aid your loved one.
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