September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Join us as we educate, raise awareness, and put an end to the stigma and misinformation surrounding dementia and Alzheimer’s.
After you or your loved one has received a diagnosis of early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you may feel helpless and hopeless. However, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not a death sentence. Patients can live long and healthy lives years after they are diagnosed. It is valuable, however, to understand what exactly you are dealing with, and to know the most beneficial and practical ways to handle the symptoms.
- Educate yourself on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The first and most important thing you can do after a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is learn about the symptoms, effects and the best methods of treatment and care. Ask your loved one’s physician any questions about their specific case, and ask them for their recommendations for a care plan.
- Develop a predictable daily routine. Have a set schedule for your loved one to bathe, get dressed, eat meals, and do other daily activities. This will avoid confusion and frustration, and they will always know what to expect. Allow for extra time for each activity so they do not feel rushed.
- Be flexible, patient, and willing to let things go. AD can cause unpredictable mood swings and behaviors and it is best not to take these personally. Keep in mind that your loved one may not be able to take part in the activity you planned, or may get upset with you for no reason. Try not to let any frustration show.
- Speak gently, positively, and directly. Always address your loved one by name, establish eye contact, and ask them simple questions in a calming, positive manner. Speaking to them directly and including them in the conversation allows them to exercise their communication skills.
- Allow independence when possible. While it may seem easier to just do everything yourself, it’s important to let your loved one do as many things as they can by themselves.
- Plan fun activities. Plan outings and activities that you know your loved one would enjoy. Go to the zoo, watch live music, shop at a local thrift store. However, understand that some plans might not work out and always be on the lookout for signs of confusion and frustration.
- Take care of yourself. Taking care of someone with AD is a full-time job and can quickly lead to caregiver burnout. Know the signs of exhaustion, stress, and frustration, and take time for yourself to relax and have fun.
It’s certainly overwhelming and frightening for a parent or loved one to be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and taking care of them can be a difficult and emotionally taxing job. However, with the right attitude, knowledge, and preparations, it can be a fulfilling experience for both of you. If you think your loved one would benefit from in-home supportive care, call Palladium Hospice and Supportive Care at 888.502.4646, we may be able to help.