Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease impacts every aspect of your daily life and can be emotionally and physically draining. An exceptional amount of understanding, energy, and patience is required as your loved one’s abilities decline and they begin to rely more heavily on you. While it can be difficult, taking care of yourself and seeking support is necessary to provide the best care possible. Here are a few tips to help make caring for your loved one easier.
Create a Safe Environment
When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s it’s important to fix potential safety hazards throughout the home. Alzheimer’s disease impairs thought and judgment, increasing a person’s risk of injury. Creating a safe environment can prevent many stressful and dangerous situations.
- Prevent falls by removing area rugs, extension cords, and clutter. Make sure the house is well lit both inside and out.
- Use locks on exterior doors and windows, especially if your loved one is prone to wandering. Also, install safety locks on cabinets that contain dangers such as weapons, toxic chemicals, and medications.
- Avoid burns by lowering thermostat on the water heater. Make sure there is a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and keep an eye on your loved one when using the stove or oven.
Establish a Daily Routine
Maintaining a predictable schedule can help provide your loved one with a sense of security. If they know what to expect, it can ease feelings anxiety and confusion associated with Alzheimer’s. It’s best to schedule more difficult tasks, such as bathing or trips to doctor when your loved one tends to be most relaxed and refreshed. Also, try to stay flexible, as the routine will most likely need to be adjusted as the disease progresses over time.
Include daily activities that interest your loved one to help keep them occupied and prevent them from becoming agitated. When planning activities, try to break them down into steps and offer simple instructions that can be carried out easily to reduce frustration and anger. Allowing them to complete as many things as possible on their own helps them achieve a sense of accomplishment and adds meaning to their daily routine.
Learn How to Communicate
Communicating with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s can be challenging. Using simple words and short phrases along with a soft, calm tone of voice can help someone with Alzheimer’s understand what you are saying and prevent them from becoming agitated. Minimize distractions by turning off the TV or radio to help your loved one focus on what you are saying and be patient while waiting for a response. Also, be sure to address your loved one by name and wait until you have their attention before you begin speaking to them.
Take Care of Yourself
Focusing on the needs of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease requires an enormous amount of energy and often leads a caregiver to neglect their own health and well-being. It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers will experience depression, elevated stress levels, or burnout. It’s crucial to get the physical and emotional support you need to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Join a support group to connect with people who know first-hand what you are going through. Sharing experiences and staying connected to others can help reduce feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Also, enlist help from family members or hire professional home care services to provide respite care. Taking time away to relax, spend time with friends, or participate in activities you enjoy is important not only for your health, but ultimately the health of your loved one as well.
To learn more about how home care services can help care for your loved one, contact Family Matters In-Home Care for a free consultation. Our caregivers are experienced with dementia and Alzheimer’s care. They will spend time with your loved one, provide companionship, activities that are mentally stimulating, and will cook nutrition meals and do light housekeeping. Most importantly, our caregivers will give you peace of mind that your loved one is being cared for with the proper support for impaired cognition.