Over 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s millions of people that will experience some degree of mental and physical degeneration, and require help with living their lives with dignity. Those people, along with their families, will need someone caring, compassionate, and skillful to help out. As someone who’s involved with home care in Honolulu, that’s where you come in.
If you’re going to be providing care to a person with Alzheimer’s, there are some inherent challenges that you can expect. However, you can handle those challenges and be an asset to the person you’re helping through a mix of caring, creativity, and patience. Yesterday, we shared a few tips to make the caregiving process a little smoother, and today, we’d like to share a few more.
- Sometimes meals can be challenging for those with Alzheimer’s, as well as for their caregivers. But a little bit of advance planning can make things easier. Try picking out meals, along with eating utensils, that minimize frustration and maximize independence. For beverages, straws can make beverages easier to manage. If you use bowls to serve food instead of plates, you can also reduce the possibility of messes.
- There’s a possibility that some activities, such as grooming and bathing, may be difficult for the person you’re working with. As a result, they can become frustrated and fixate on the activity they don’t like. To take their mind off of it, try singing or doing an activity that’s fun to take their mind off of it. You can also try nonverbal communication, such as gestures, to keep things simple.
- From time to time, the person you’re working with will likely ask for people who are not there, have grown up, or have been dead for many years. In a situation like this, it’s best to soothe them and keep them calm. If they ask for a spouse that’s deceased, it’s okay to tell them that they have stepped out to run an errand. If an elderly person asks to see her babies, you can tell them that they are sleeping. It can feel a little strange to tell a white lie like this, but that’s better than running the risk of upsetting them with potentially bad news.
- It’s a simple fact that people with Alzheimer’s don’t move quickly. Trying to get someone to hurry, even if it’s to complete a simple task, is guaranteed to fail along with possibly upsetting them. A good rule of thumb is to assume that whatever you’re doing is going to take time, and schedule accordingly. By doing that, you can make sure to keep their stress levels low and prevent confusion as much as possible.
- Speaking of stress reduction, if the person you’re caring for has incontinence, it will make both their life and your life easier if you have a routine planned to take them to the bathroom. If they don’t have the ability to tell you when they need to use the restroom, plan on taking them every 3-4 hours, or more frequently depending on their needs.
- Finally, remember that the person with Alzheimer’s has no control over what’s happening to them. Since they don’t have a way to adapt to changing circumstances, adaptation becomes your job. If you accept that things will change and that you’ll need to find new ways to help and relate to them, it will be less stressful for both of you.