To take care of someone with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be a demanding, stressful, and intensely emotional task. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are around 16 million people taking care of dementia and Alzheimer’s patient in the United States.
Dementia is a term applied to various symptoms that negatively impact the memory of a person, whereas Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, is a specific progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function.
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Considering that there is currently no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s, caregiving and support are the main reasons for any improvements in patient quality of life.
Just as dementia and Alzheimer’s progress differently, depending on the individual patient, the caregiving experience should also vary from person to person.
Here are some strategies that can assist you as a caregiver when providing care for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Make use of care communities:
Caregiving for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can be all-consuming. As the patient’s cognitive, physical, and functional abilities diminish gradually over time, the caregiver can easily become overwhelmed and disheartened.
The burden of caregiving can put caregivers’ health at increased risk and many start experiencing depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout.
Particularly, family caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s face these problems and risk their own health in the process. If you have a loved one suffering from the disease, you can also check them into a nursing home, where expert staff will be responsible for their care. In Australia, the nursing homes Brisbane provide comfort and care for the older folks suffering from these debilitating diseases.
Speak kindly and simply:
This may seem obvious, yet many caregivers ask open-ended questions to dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. For instance, “What would you like to eat for dinner today?” Avoid these at all costs.
As dementia and Alzheimer’s patients may have lost their ability to connect information into clear ideas and responses, it would be then difficult for them to answer such questions. Try to ask simple questions like “Would you like some pasta for dinner today?” It is easier for them to respond with a simple “yes” or a “no”.
Patience is key:
Dementia and Alzheimer’s patient may be mentally challenged and suffer from communication problems. You need to exercise a lot more patience in such situations. Getting agitated or frustrated with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients serves no purpose. In fact, it will likely lead to agitation for both of you.
That is why it is important to keep yourself mentally at peace. Always give Alzheimer’s patients the time they need to respond and repeat yourself as many times as you’d have to without offending their dignity.
Try as many physical activities as possible:
It has been proven through research that staying physically active can slow down brain aging. In case of dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases, various studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate the damage these diseases cause.
As physical activities not only improve physical health but also positively impact the mind, it is essential that dementia and Alzheimer’s patients keep themselves physically active. As a caregiver, you should encourage physical movement and activity in your patients.
Laughter is the best medicine:
Although there is certainly nothing funny about dementia and Alzheimer’s, laughter has been shown to benefit those with memory loss.
A study conducted in Australia found that telling and listening to jokes can help in relieving stress in much the same way as medication does. Laughter can help dementia and Alzheimer’s caregiver to improve the quality of life for those afflicted by the disease and also let go of the pressure they are under. Thus, as caregivers, you should be happy as much as you can for both the patients and your own sake.
Keep a sense of familiarity:
Dementia and Alzheimer’s caregivers must stick to consistent schedules of waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime.
Keeping these things organized and running according to specific times helps the patient do these out of habit. Various studies have also proved that a sense of familiarity can produce better results for these patients.
Therefore, caregivers should use different tips and tricks to make doing daily chores familiar. Use signs to establish the different times of day—opening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing relaxing music to indicate bedtime.
Remember to take care of yourself:
There will be stressful times for you while caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. You must try to find ways to manage your anxiety and stress. You can take help from any of the methods given below:
- Reduce your stress level through meditation
- Perform muscle relaxing exercises
- Go for a walk in a serene environment
- Make a call to a friend
- Reach out for emotional support
Being a caretaker to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s is no mean feat. Considering that their quality of life depends on the care they’re given, you must ensure that your conduct is kind and patient. Also, make sure that you are familiarizing them with the day’s schedule and helping them stay active throughout the day.