Being a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s, especially a family member, can be both emotionally and physically demanding.
As you can imagine, caring for a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging and difficult. Remember, the person has a damaged brain that is not working correctly.
Creating a Supportive Routine
The impairment in brain function doesn’t allow the person to understand his or her environment like they usually would. And, there are many factors in the person’s home or nursing care facility that make behavior problems more intense, such as changes in daily routine, loud noises, sleep deprivation, overly-glaring or too-dim lighting, and little or no exercise. It’s very important to follow a regular daily routine. Eating and sleeping at the same time each day is encouraged. Also, keeping the person oriented to time is also a very good idea. Having an easy-to-read clock in their environment is helpful.
Another good tip: Try to “distract” the person with Alzheimer’s if they become upset and start to argue. Don’t waste time (or your patience) with conflict. Gently, in a calm voice, redirect the person onto another subject to get their mind off the argument. I was one of my mother’s primary caregivers in her later years, before Alzheimer’s claimed her life at close to 90 years old, and this “distraction” technique worked very well in calming her.
Soothing with Music and Exercise
Music is often very calming for the Alzheimer’s patient. Play some of their favorite songs to relax them. Mom loved “Moon River” and any song by Neil Diamond (who doesn’t!!).
Light, fun exercise works well, too. Short walks around the room/house/block a few times a day keep the blood circulating, if the person is physically able. Gentle exercises for the hands and arms can be done in a chair. Try to make a game out of such exercises. These are just a few suggestions to help care for a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s. More suggestions and activity ideas can be found by contacting your local Office on Aging Services.
Don’t Be a Hero
Finally, I can’t stress this point enough. Being a caregiver for a person with this disease, especially if they are a family member, can be both emotionally and physically draining. Before you get to a “breaking point,” ask for respite care help from another trusted family member, or from a home health nursing care service. You won’t be able to give proper, loving care to an Alzheimer’s patient if you don’t take care of yourself first. It’s not being selfish – it’s just good, common sense.
Together, let’s age boldly,
Looking for a self-care activity? Read this Writing the Digital Page article: “F*^# the Scales: Simple Exercise Habits for Seniors”
Feature Image Credit: Stephanie Ghesquier