Living with, or caring for someone, with Alzheimer’s and related dementias can be challenging and rewarding. These progressive disorders will keep you both on your toes as cognitive abilities decline over time. People diagnosed with dementia will begin to have a difficult time remembering things, especially anything to do with numbers like dates and recipes. They will become moody and frustrated with themselves because they don’t understand why they can’t remember simple things like where the store is, how to dress, or when to take their medication. As a caregiver, it will become increasingly difficult to assist your loved one through the stages of dementia. It may be frustrating at times, but implementing some of these tips into the way you care for someone with dementia could make the progression easier for both of you.
Daily Care Routines
Keeping a consistent daily routine will help people with dementia remember simple tasks. This would include bathing, dressing, having meals at the same time every day, and encouraging them to do as much as they can on their own. Purchasing clothing that is loose-fitting and easy to use will help them keep their independence for as long as possible. They will be more confident in their ability to take care of themselves. Another great way to help them is to sit down with them and fill out a to-do list and a calendar of events and appointments. Also, add in activities that they enjoy doing.
Communication will become increasingly difficult and frustrating for people with dementia. They often forget words or phrases and could begin stuttering or making repetitive noises when they cannot figure out what to say. They may become agitated if you try to fill in the blank. So, allow them the time to find the words that they are looking for. The way you respond to them communicating will help ease any anxiety or confusion they may have. Being compassionate and showing them that you care about what they are saying will help them to feel comfortable communicating with you. You will also want to use short sentences that are easy to process and break down activities into a series of steps. This allows them the time needed to process what you are saying and be able to perform the task.
Safety is of the utmost concern for many caregivers of dementia, especially when they are living in their own homes still. Removing hazards around the house is simple. Start by removing small rugs, tape down or tying up any visible cords, and make sure there are clear pathways for them to walk around their home. Additionally, you will want to add safety features to their home. This includes covering any unused outlets, locking up cleaning supplies, installing handrails going up the stairs and in the restrooms, and marking the edge of steps.
Continuing Your Education and Support
While it may seem scary, knowing the progression of dementia can help prepare you for the changes you can expect from your loved one. There are several resources online that can help you understand dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society has broken down each stage of Alzheimer’s and related dementias that is easy to understand.
It can be helpful to talk to people that are experiencing or have experienced a similar situation as you. The Greater Idaho Alzheimer’s Association has several support groups across Idaho, both in-person and virtual, that you can attend at your leisure.