When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s – Tips and Advice for the Whole Family
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can leave a family feeling overwhelmed. If someone you love has recently been diagnosed with this condition, you may be looking at the road ahead with at least a little dread and uncertainty.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding. Knowing what to expect and preparing for the challenges is important.
Every situation is unique, so what works for one family may not work for another. However, here are a few general tips that can help families of those with Alzheimer’s to meet their changing needs.
Planning ahead can be difficult because it forces you to think about a time when your loved one’s condition will be more advanced. However, it’s still important to plan for the future. The more prepared you are as a family, the better able you will be to handle transitions smoothly as your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses. And, if you start early enough, you will be able to include your loved one in much of the process, thus ensuring that you can honor their wishes to the greatest extent possible.
A few things to consider as early as possible:
- Decide who will make financial and health care decisions when your loved one is unable to do this on their own. This may involve executing a power of attorney or, if your loved one is no longer capable of making this decision, appointing a guardian or conservator.
- Decide who will be the primary caregiver. Although the bulk of the caregiving may fall to one person, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is a demanding job, and is usually too much for a single person to handle on their own. So it’s also important to think about how others in the family may be able to offer support.
- Decide where your loved one will live. It may be necessary to make some home modifications in order to ensure the safety of the person with Alzheimer’s. You may also decide that it would be practical to relocate your loved one so that he or she is closer to family or other support. Even if you plan on caring for your loved one at home for as long as possible, doing some research on long-term care options can help you be prepared in the event that the primary caregiver is no longer able to meet all of their needs. For tips on choosing the right assisted living facility, click here to read our past article.
Develop a Consistent Routine
A predictable daily routine will help many people with Alzheimer’s. You may find that your loved one becomes less disoriented when wakeup time, bathing, dressing, mealtimes, and bedtime all happen at consistent times and follow consistent patterns. Establishing cues (such as always opening the shades in the morning to let in the sunlight, enlisting your loved one’s help to set the table, or playing calming music in the evening) can help your loved one know what to expect.
Make sure to include time for activities that your loved one enjoys. Even if it’s as simple as taking a daily walk, doing some gardening, or visiting with friends, allow regular opportunities for socialization and a variety of sensory experiences.
As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses, you will need to make adjustments in the way that you communicate. You may notice that they struggle with finding the right words, that they use more hand gestures, or that they become confused more easily. These tips can help you to avoid needlessly frustrating them.
- Keep it simple. Speak slowly and avoid communicating too much information at once. Use clear, definite language, and use specific words instead of pronouns.
- Ask the right questions. Rather than asking questions that rely on short term memory to answer, ask your loved one questions that they can answer with a simple “yes” or “no”. For example, instead of saying, “What did you do yesterday?” ask, “Did you enjoy your trip to the park?”
- Be prepared to repeat things. Never call attention to your loved one’s failing memory by saying things like, “I just told you that!” or “How can you not remember?” Instead, repeat the same thing in a different way if it seems like they are having a hard time understanding. And remind yourself that you may have to say the same thing or answer the same question over and over again. Be patient, and remember that it’s not their fault!
- Preserve their dignity. Avoid using baby talk or talking about your loved one as if they weren’t there. Instead, include them in conversations whenever you can and treat them like adults.
If you need help locating resources to help you with your loved one’s care, contact your local area agency on aging. The Alzheimer’s Association is another source of helpful information and support.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910.686.7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington NC with a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!