Being the caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's disease is a tricky task. This guide will help you make your loved one feel comfortable and safe at home.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a general term that is used to describe memory loss and trouble in coherent thinking and other intellectual abilities of a person. This irreversible, progressive brain disorder slowly damages the memory of a person, and eventually limits their ability to even carry out simple, everyday tasks. Although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, the greatest risk factor of this disease is advancing age. In most cases, Alzheimer’s affects people who are aged 65 years and older. However, it can also affect people in their 40s or 50s. According to scientists, Alzheimer’s disease develops in a person owing to factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and environment. The onset of this mental disorder in a person is usually marked by forgetfulness and mild confusion, but over time the symptoms worsen and lead to difficulty in organizing thoughts, trouble in understanding their surroundings, difficulty in speaking and writing, trouble concentrating and thinking, and various changes in behavior and personality.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments that can help slow down the worsening of the symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients. But alongside a doctor’s help, the most important thing for patients of Alzheimer’s disease is the love and support of family members and people close to them. Having said that, it is surely not an easy job to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient—loads of patience and detailed understanding about the disease are just some of the things that you need to have. If you are a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, the difficulty lies in performing everyday tasks that may seem quite routine and come naturally to other people. Try to understand what your loved one is going through because of the disease, and help them deal with the situation. Here are some tips that can help you with your everyday schedule while taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease.
General Care Techniques for an Alzheimer’s Patient
Establish a daily routine: For people with Alzheimer’s disease, even the most mundane things can be quite confusing. Making a schedule and sticking to it can make the day more predictable and less confusing for the patient. The daily routine will help them cooperate more with the activities, making the entire experience smoother for you too.
Take your time: Patience is key while dealing with someone with this disease, so don’t expect things to get done in the time that other people get it done. Schedule longer times to complete tasks so that you are not rushing the person to finish something.
Encourage independence: According to some studies, a technique called ‘graded assistance,’ together with regular practice and positive reinforcement can considerably help an Alzheimer’s patient to maintain some level of independence in everyday tasks. This technique uses the method of helping a person achieve a task with the least amount of help possible, and the assistance provided ranges from verbal prompts to physical guidance.
Communication Techniques That You Should Use with an Alzheimer’s Patient
Get their attention: Use the name of the person, and make sure that he/she is looking at you and listening before you start speaking.
Provide simple and direct instructions: Simple words and short, direct sentences can be the most effective while communicating with someone who has dementia. If you are asking them to do something, take it one step at a time. A calm, gentle tone of voice without being condescending is essential to making them feel comfortable.
Minimize noise and other distractions: To help the person focus better on the task at hand, turn off the TV or radio and reduce other distractions to help them pay attention to you.
Be patient and positive: Positivity goes a long way, so frame your questions and instructions in a positive manner. Also, learn to be as patient as you can even if it is difficult to understand, and be open to the person’s concerns.
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