It’s estimated that nearly 5.5 million people over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s more than 1 in 10 senior citizens. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that slowly destroys memory and other cognitive functions. Depending on the type of Alzheimer’s, the diagnosis could remain for years or even last a lifetime. Those who suffer from it typically experience memory loss, mood swings, irritability, jumbled speech, confusion, anger, and loss of appetite. While the disease is difficult for those who suffer from it, it also takes its toll on family members.
Whether the diagnosis is new or if the condition has been advancing for years, there are a few things you can do to support your suffering family member.
As a family member, it’s often difficult to separate Alzheimer’s and its side effects from the memories you have of your loved one. You may feel like the person you once knew has completely disappeared. It’s not uncommon for family members to become frustrated or angry as they try to coax their loved ones out of their state of confusion. While you may think that your family member can snap out of their symptoms if you work hard enough, that’s typically not the case. Unfortunately, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can rarely be reversed. Instead, we encourage you to find ways to accept the disease for what it is and find methods to cope.
The best way to provide support through an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is to educate yourself on the disease. Attend doctor’s appointments with your loved one to learn more about their specific symptoms and to broaden your knowledge on the subject. Then, conduct as much research as you can to better understand what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects those who suffer from it.
Someone you care about may have Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that you love them and want to be there as a support system. However, all the love in the world isn’t enough to keep frustrations at bay. Keep that in mind as you support your loved one and help them deal with this debilitating disease. It’s easy to become angry or feel hopeless when daily tasks take longer than usual, or when your loved one doesn’t recognize your face. Responding with anger will only leave your loved one further flustered and confused.
It’s best to develop coping mechanisms to deal with your frustrations once they arrive. Realize that, while the situation may not be ideal, there’s no one that your loved one needs more than you. Even though it may be hard, avoid arguing or fighting with your family member. Instead, take a deep breath. Count to 10 if you need to. You can even focus your mind on a happy memory of your loved one. Do whatever it takes to maintain your patience and calm your frustrations. You’ll find that you enjoy your time with your family member more.[/vc_column_text]
Due to the effects of Alzheimer’s, your family member’s mind will not be working as it once did, leaving them unable to process or understand large pieces of information at once. This doesn’t mean that your loved one shouldn’t help with day-to-day tasks, though. Allowing them to help is a great way to exercise their mind and slow the effects of the disease. You should not expect them to maintain the same speed as before. Keeping things as basic as possible will help them in the long run. For example, you can ask them to help you set the table, fold clothes, or put away shoes. While allowing them to help is important, avoid overloading their mind with multiple requests or questions. Instead, we encourage you to say one thing at a time. It will be easier for them to answer this way and gives them a greater chance of success.
Maintain a Routine
Routines are exactly what Alzheimer’s patients need to thrive. A routine instills a sense of comfort and allows them to feel safe in the life they’re living, even if they can’t remember all the details. Because of their memory loss, a routine may help them know when certain things will happen. For example, they might know that every day after watching the news, they start getting ready for bed, or that, after breakfast, it’s time to take a shower. Do your best to maintain your loved one’s daily routine. Be sure that their days are filled with small tasks as well as things they enjoy. Make family and friends a part of the routine as well.
No matter how advanced Alzheimer’s is, there’s always still room for humor. If laughter can cure a multitude of ills, why not use it? Try to make your loved one laugh regularly. This will boost serotonin levels in their brain and allow the person to feel happy instead of agitated. It may even trigger memories, reduce blood pressure, and lead to better sleep. Humor is also a great way to distract your loved one from the irritating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. If humor doesn’t work, turn on some music and dance or sing to distract your family member.
Don’t Do It Alone
There are over 15 million people in the United States caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. If you’re one of these people, you may feel lonely, isolated, hopeless, or angry. You’re not alone! It is important to know that you should not feel the pressures of caring for your loved one all on your own. Instead, join a support group, make time for yourself, and don’t handle the care on your own. Hiring an in-home care provider is an excellent way to relieve some of your stress while still ensuring that your loved one gets the care and supervision that they need.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be grueling. If you’re struggling with the diagnosis, enlist the help of the professionals. 24 Hour Home Care provides nothing but the best homecare in Sherman Oaks. Our highly qualified staff members can assist with day-to-day tasks, errands, grocery shopping, and companionship. Whether you’re looking for around-the-clock supervision or just a break a few times a week, allow us to find the perfect in-home aid to help.