How to Care for A Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Join us as we educate, raise awareness, and put an end to the stigma surrounding dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Getting a diagnosis of early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be dismaying at first; not only does it affect those diagnosed with this degenerative disease, it affects friends, family members, and caretakers as well. However, this doesn’t have to be a debilitating diagnosis. With the right education and preparation, you and your loved ones can learn how to take control and deal with the symptoms of both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

  1. Educate yourself on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The first and most important step you can do after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is learn about the symptoms, effects, and the best methods of treatment and care. There are even support groups to remind you that there is always someone going through the same challenges you are.
  2. Keep things simple. Ask and say one thing at a time in a soft, calming voice. Keep your loved one in the conversation, but try not to overwhelm them with questions or plans.
  3. Establish a daily routine so they will know what to expect. Plan simple activities, recognizing their current mental and physical capabilities. Let your loved one get used to the daily routine and try not to switch it up too often.
  4. Balance independence and teamwork. Focus on your loved one’s strengths and let them do the things that they are still able to do, but prompt them on appointments and financial reminders.
  5. Encourage physical activity. Getting exercise is important for both physical and mental health. Incorporate a physical activity that your loved one enjoys, whether it’s a light walk or gardening. Always have water available and be on the lookout for signs of exhaustion.
  6. Be patient, flexible and never show frustration. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or discouraged, take a deep breath, count to ten, or leave the room for a moment if it’s safe.
  7. Encourage engagement with others. Have friends and family come visit and interact with your loved one. Include them in the conversation, address them by name, and ask them simple questions to exercise their communication skills.
  8. Recognize and be able to understand their emotions. Learn to acknowledge when they are scared, confused, or angry. In these situations, be able to assure safety, distract, or help as much as the situation allows.
  9. Take care of yourself. This is just as important as taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, but oftentimes gets ignored. If you find yourself getting tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, set aside time to relax, take care of yourself, and talk to someone about how you’re feeling.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it is also not a death sentence. Patients can live for a long time after being diagnosed, so it’s important to learn how to cope with the symptoms and to enhance the quality of life. While you may feel helpless after a loved one has been diagnosed, ultimately, all the patient needs is a loving, consistent, and devoted caregiver who best understands their needs. That is truly the best gift you can give them.

For more questions on Alzheimer’s disease, or if you think in-home care is a good option for your loved one suffering from AD, call ViaQuest at (855) 289-1722.