Tips for Providing Alzheimer’s Care at Home
Want to keep a loved one home even though he or she has Alzheimer’s? It is possible with some creativity and safety measures. You’ll need to engage your patience and flexibility so that it is less frustrating and overwhelming. Use these tips for providing Alzheimer’s care at home to guide you…
To begin with, it is important to point out that safety issues often stem from the following Alzheimer’s symptoms:
- Forgetfulness – People with Alzheimer’s have a difference in judgment and they often can forget to do things that could cause safety issues, such as leaving appliances on.
- Confusion – People with Alzheimer’s can suddenly become confused, which can include feelings of fearfulness or suspicion.
- Sense of Time & Space – Alzheimer’s can cause people to forget where they are and find familiar places to be suddenly unfamiliar.
- Balance – People with Alzheimer’s can easily become off balance when moving around.
- Dulling of the Senses – Alzheimer’s can cause people to lose sharpness of senses, making them see, hear and experience temperature and depth perception differently.
Knowing that, keep the following tips in mind as you care for your loved one:
Slow Down – You can’t expect things to take the same amount of time as they would take if you were caring for a patient without Alzheimer’s. You’ll need to go into each day with a mindset of patience and expect that things will take longer than you are used to.
Let Your Loved One Maintain Some Independence – Nurture your loved one’s health by allowing him or her to do the things they are capable of doing. When we stay active, it prolongs our health. With safety as your priority, allow your loved one to carry on doing the things they can still do. In some cases, it might take a little creativity or flexibility on your part to find ways for that to be possible. For example, can they do a small portion of a task instead of the whole thing?
Provide Structure – The more structure and familiarity you provide for your loved one, the less confusion they will feel. You can do this by maintaining a consistent schedule from day to day.
Be Smart About Scheduling – Schedule difficult tasks at times when your loved one tends to be at their best. Things like medical appointments and bathing can often cause confusion and frustration, so try to schedule those things at the time of day that you find your loved one handles them best.
Provide Simple Choices – Frustration and confusion get worse when too many options are given. Instead, provide fewer options to make it easier for your loved one to make a decision.
Simplify Your Instructions – Just like having too many choices can be confusing for a person with Alzheimer’s, following a list of instructions can be difficult as well. Following one simple command, however, reduces confusion and frustration. Try giving one command at a time, and not moving onto the next until that one is complete.
Reduce Distractions – When there is too much noise or commotion, it can add to the feeling of confusion for your loved one. Reduce distractions and commotion whenever possible. For example, allow your loved one to focus on eating her dinner with the TV off.
Be Flexible – Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s requires flexibility. Things may change from day to day, and as the disease progresses, the way you care for your loved one will change as well. Try to go with the flow and make flexibility part of your daily mantra.
Provide a Safe Environment – Impaired judgment can lead to safety issues if you aren’t careful. Always be ahead of the game and watch out for potential trip hazards, keep dangerous items like lighters, matches, guns, certain tools, alcohol, medicine and cleaning supplies locked up, and turn the temperature down on the water heater. For a more in depth list of safety precautions, click here.
Use Yes or No Questions – Asking open-ended questions only adds to your loved one’s confusion. Instead, ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
Work With What You Have – Expecting your loved one to be as they used to be is not going to help matters and it will only make you both more frustrated. Instead, calmly work with what you have to work with right now. Don’t try to get the person to remember things or question them about remembering things. Don’t say things like “I just told you that.” Don’t talk down to your loved one – always treat him or her with respect and a loving tone.