With nearly 5.4 million individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there is a vast number of families who are caring for loved ones with this disease. As awareness spreads and purposeful purple badges and ribbons become more plentiful this month, christened National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, there’s no better time than now to get proactive and learn how you can help. Here are some tips to help you and your family member living with Alzheimer’s:
- Educate and Engage
The very first step to helping someone with Alzheimer’s is understanding what is happening and will change in the future—that this disease leads to nerve cell damage as well as tissue loss, which largely affects the brains functions and results in things such as confusion and forgetfulness that affects conversations, locating items or remembering directions and, in later stages, more severe memory loss, as well as organization, orientation and reasoning issues and possibly odd behaviors and lack of awareness. Beyond education, engagement is likely the most important part of the battle against Alzheimer’s and its effects. Social engagement and activity are simple, yet incredible, ways to help those diagnosed.
- Be Patient, Prioritize & Plan
The adjustment process is not always easy and the changes in memory, mood and personality can be trying for both the patient and their family. Through everything—the repeated conversations, misplaced items, and withdrawal—it’s important to be calm and patient. There are a lot of responsibilities in caretaking and the only way to successfully manage them is to prioritize. Sometimes even then, it is not possible for one person to perform all the tasks. If it gets overwhelming, get other family members involved and devise a care plan. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses; utilize each person’s skills and interests to make it easier for everyone.
- Fight it with Fun
There is still an abundance of ways to enjoy life, despite the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Whether working on a family photo collage or album together or engaging in an expressive project, such as painting, the activity choices are for seniors with Alzheimer’s are varied. Music therapy and even yoga are options that have multifaceted benefits. It’s not only healthy for Alzheimer’s patients but their families too, as social engagement is key to a healthy life and activities such as these will help both parties de-stress and cope with difficult emotions.
- Be Flexible
Daily routines that reduce stress for individuals with Alzheimer’s are beneficial, but you must understand that preferences change, and behaviors and abilities fluctuate. This requires a level of flexibility on the caretakers part, as they must adjust to the other’s needs. Adapting to new needs can be simple at times and complex at others. Keeping in communication and looking for patterns in behavior will help you know when a change needs to be made.
- Get Support
Finding friends, family, a support group or even a home care agency can be extremely helpful and uplifting in hard times. Getting this support, in the beginning, will, many times, help patients and their families deal with feelings of loss, anger, resentment, frustration, anxiety or stress. No one has to go through this alone and there are all kinds of organizations offering help, including our team at Freedom Home Care. If you have questions or are in search of help from “home care agency near me,” give us a call or email at (877) 262-1223 or email@example.com.