Love’s Great Challenge
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient
By David Buice
Though there are rewards for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, including deepening bonds of compassion and love, providing this care impacts every aspect of the caregiver’s life. A person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can live up to 20 years, and as the disease progresses and the patient loses one ability after another, it’s essential that you, the caregiver, maintain your own physical and emotional health.
For family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, the costs can be enormous. In 2016, family caregivers provided an estimated $230 billion and 18.2 billion hours caring for those
The cost of care, however, often goes far beyond money and time. The role of an Alzheimer’s caregiver can be stressful, exhausting, and frightening, especially as the disease progresses into more advanced stages.
For those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, we hope these suggestions will be helpful.
An Alzheimer’s patient can easily become agitated when once simple tasks become more difficult. To ease frustrations:
- Establish a basic routine to make each day less confusing. Schedule tasks such as bathing at times when they’re most alert and refreshed. But allow some flexibility for spontaneous activities.
- Provide simple instructions. Patients best understand clear, one-step communication.
- Keep them involved. Allow your loved one to do as much as possible, such as setting the table or helping you mix ingredients for a dish.
- Provide choices. It’s best to minimize choices, but give them some. Provide two outfits to choose from, for example, or ask if they would like to go for a walk or watch a movie.
- Take your time. Things will take longer than they once did, so schedule more time for tasks so they don’t feel hurried or pressured.
Maintain a safe environment
- Avoid scattered rugs, extension cords, and any clutter that might lead to a fall. Install hand rails in critical areas.
- Install locks on cabinets that contain potentially harmful things like weapons, tools, dangerous utensils, medicines, alcohol, or toxic cleaning substances.
- Lower the temperature on the hot water heater to avoid scalding.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach, and if they smoke, make sure they’re supervised.
- Turn off the radio or TV, keep unneeded items off the table, and if necessary, serve one thing at a time.
- Don’t hurry, and give them plenty of time
- If swallowing is difficult, serve softer foods like cottage cheese, applesauce, or scrambled eggs.
Specialists really don’t know how to prevent Alzheimer’s, but exercising your brain by learning new things, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, are thought to help keep your brain healthy.