Alzheimer’s Disease: 6 Better Ways to Live With It

Do YOU Know Someone With Alzheimer’s?

When you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you tend to look at the worst aspects of the disease and don’t acknowledge that there are ways to manage that will help you lead a more normal life.

The proper coping skills will help you maintain some independence and accept the difficulties of the disease. Your life doesn’t stop because of your illness. It just means you have to change the way you do things.

When people feel trapped, they tend to get nervous, uneasy, and sometimes aggressive. Unfortunately, many people who care for people living with Alzheimer’s, including family and friends, blame this normal behavior on the disease rather than addressing the real underlying causes.

Usually, something in the environment or in the way the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is being treated or approached provokes the aggressive behavior, which is, in fact, a perfectly normal response.

There are more than 16 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the US alone. For lots of families, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia isn’t just one person’s job but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities.

So if you’re someone who supports a person with Alzheimer’s, we have some helpful ways to lend a hand, in ways both big AND small! Keep reading to check ’em out.

Alzheimer’s
Photo by PopTika at Shutterstock

Planning Ahead

Making health care decisions for someone who can no longer do so for themselves can be overwhelming. That’s why it is essential to plan health care aspects in advance.

To help plan for a better future, you can:

  1. Start discussions early on with your loved ones so they can be involved in the decision-making process.
  2. Get permission to talk to the doctor or lawyer of the person you’re caring for, as needed. There may be questions about care, bills, or health insurance claims. Without consent, you might not be able to get the required information.
  3. Think about legal and financial matters, options for in-home and long-term care. And even though it may be uncomfortable, funeral and burial arrangements.

Learning about a loved one’s condition will help you know what to expect as their Alzheimer’s progresses and what you can do.

Home Safety

As a caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s, you can take steps to make the home a safer place to live in. You can remove any hazards and add some safety features around the house, which will give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely.

Try out some of these tips:

  1. If you have stairs, make sure to install a handrail. Put safety grip strips on stairs, or you can even mark the edges of steps with some brightly colored tape to make them more visible.
  2. Put in safety plugs into electrical outlets and consider adding some safety latches on your cabinet doors.
  3. Clear away any unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other things the person can trip over.
  4. Ensure that all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have adequate lighting.
  5. Remove any rugs or curtains that have busy patterns. They may confuse the person.
  6. Lock up any cleaning and household products, including matches or paint thinner.
Alzheimer’s
Photo by Robert Kneschke at Shutterstock

Healthy and Active Lifestyle

Eating healthy and staying active is great for everyone but is especially important for people with Alzheimer’s. As the disease advances, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and keep active may get increasingly difficult.

So here are some tips that can help:

  1. Think about various activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking, baking, exercise, or even gardening. Fit the action to what the person can do.
  2. Help in getting an activity started or join in to make the exercise more fun. People with Alzheimer’s may lack interest and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they might join in.
  3. Add some music to activities if it helps uplift the person. You can even dance along to the music if possible.
  4. Be realistic about how much activity you can do at one time. Just a few short “mini-workouts” may be enough.
  5. Go on a stroll together every day. Exercise is good for caregivers, as well!
    Buy various healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to make, such as salads and single portions.
  6. Give the person choices about what their eating. Try: “Would you like yogurt or salad?”

Communicate

Communication can be challenging for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia because they may have trouble recalling things. They can even become agitated, anxious, or angry. You will get frustrated, but it’s essential to understand that the disease is causing the change in communication skills.

To help make communication more manageable, you can:

  1. Reassure the person. Talk calmly. Listen to their troubles and frustrations. Try to display that you understand if the person feels angry or fearful.
  2. Let the person keep as much control of their life as possible, and respect the person’s personal space.
  3. Designate quiet times throughout the day, along with activities.
  4. Keep precious objects and photos around the house to help the person feel safer.
  5. Remind the person who you are if they don’t remember, but try not to say, “Don’t you remember?”
  6. Encourage a conversation for as long as possible.
  7. Try distracting the person with some sort of activity, like a familiar book or photo album, if you have trouble communicating with words.

Everyday Care

Early on in Alzheimer’s and dementia, people go through changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning that affect daily life. At some point, people with these diseases will be needing more help with day-to-day tasks. This can include bathing and dressing. It may be troubling to a person to need help with these personal activities.

Here are some things to consider early on and as the disease advances:

  1. Try to keep a regular routine for bathing, dressing, and eating.
  2. Help the person complete to-do lists, including appointments and events in a notebook or calendar.
  3. Plan activities that the person appreciates and try to do them simultaneously each day.
  4. Consider a system of reminders for those who take medications regularly.
  5. When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible on their own.
  6. Buy loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
  7. Use a sturdy shower chair to support an unsteady person and prevent falls.
  8. Be delicate and respectful. Tell the person what you will do, step by step, while you help them bathe or get dressed.
  9. Serve meals in a constant, familiar place and give the person sufficient time to eat.
Alzheimer’s
Photo by Ocskay Mark at Shutterstock

Don’t Forget To Care For Yourself!

Being a caretaker/caregiver is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be very exhausting! Taking good care of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia takes time and a lot of effort. It can also be lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry at times, which could signify you are trying to take on too much. It’s essential to find the time to also take care of yourself.

Here are some tips that can offer some relief for you:

  1. Learn to ask for help when you need it. This means asking family members and friends to help. Or you can even reach out to local services for different care needs.
  2. Make sure you eat a nutritious diet, which can help keep you healthy and active for more extended periods.
  3. Join a caregiver’s support group online or even in person. Meeting other people in your situation will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling alone.
  4. Remember to take a few breaks each day. Try drinking a cup of tea or calling a trusted friend.
  5. Spend some time with friends and keep up with hobbies as often as you can.
  6. Get exercise as often as you can. Yoga or going for a walk might help.
  7. Have you tried meditation? Studies show that practicing meditation can reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. It’ll even help with insomnia.
  8. Consider getting help from mental health professionals to help you deal with the stress and anxiety. Talk to your doctor about finding the proper treatment.

In conclusion, the key to living with Alzheimer’s is taking it day by day. If you feel overwhelmed, there are many outside sources, like support groups that can help you cope.

And if this info was helpful, check out: 7 Sources Of Caffeine Other Than Coffee

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