While the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still not fully understood, the effects it has on the brain are clear. This common form of dementia causes memory loss and gradual cognitive changes that affect nearly every aspect of the person’s life. As the disease progresses, you may find that your loved one needs more and more help with everyday activities. Basic tasks like bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating are known as activities of daily living, or ADLs. Here is a look at the different ADLs your loved one may require.
Proper nutrition is crucial for those with Alzheimer’s. Eating well not only keeps the body strong and healthy, it also helps ward off weight loss and behavioral issues caused by a poor diet. While people with Alzheimer’s generally do not need a special diet, they should maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein foods, and low-fat dairy products. They should limit saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may skip meals or choose unhealthy convenience foods over whole foods. As one of the most important elements of good health, ensure that your loved one is getting the nutrition he or she needs to help maintain their well-being.
2. Personal Hygiene
As the Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one may have more and more difficulty with personal hygiene. Not only can infrequent bathing result in unpleasant odors, it can also contribute to health problems such as urinary tract infections, rashes, and skin diseases. Many individuals with Alzheimer’s view bathing as another annoying chore and therefore neglect basic hygiene. For others, the mere thought of water hitting the skin or the loud sound of the shower can be uncomfortable. During the later stages of the disease, many elderly individuals may need assistance with bathing and grooming.
Basic activities of daily living such as dressing can become difficult due to body aches, confusion, and memory loss. Beyond the early stages of Alzheimer’s, many individuals may find it frustrating to both choose and put on clothing. Having a vast array of options can make the tasks very overwhelming. Caregivers can make the process easier by laying out a few choices instead of simply saying “get dressed.” It is also an idea to have options that are simple and comfortable, such as soft and stretchy fabrics without a lot of snaps, buttons, and zippers. A pair of non-slip shoes is a better alternative to laces.
4. Toileting / Continence
People with Alzheimer’s may struggle with using the toilet. On occasions, accidents can happen and in later stages of the disease, incontinence is fairly common. Urinary incontinence may be an occasional leak, a trickling following the passing of urine, or the total loss of bladder control. Fecal incontinence can also occur. Some individuals with Alzheimer’s need reminders to go to the bathroom or may just need physical assistance going to and from the bathroom. As cognitive abilities decline, elderly with Alzheimer’s may forget how to perform toilet-related tasks or may not even attempt to find a toilet.
Remaining physically active is important for elderly with or without Alzheimer’s. While one of the most important ADLs, many people with the disease lose mobility which can affect their overall well-being. Some seniors just have trouble standing from a sitting or lying position, such as getting out of bed in the morning. Others have trouble walking and may need an aid, such as a walker or cane. Seniors with Alzheimer’s are also at a greater risk for falls due to reduced stability and balance.
6. Housekeeping / Laundry
Keeping a clean, tidy home can be difficult for seniors, and even more so for individuals with Alzheimer’s. While family members may try to chip in to take on daily tasks like laundry, dishes, and vacuuming, it is not always enough. When housekeeping becomes too much, many families seek out in-home care services. Keeping a clean home may involve some decluttering. Getting rid of excess clutter is also an effective way to minimize a senior’s risk of falls. Regular in-home care services can be used to maintain cleanliness and organization.
Many people take simple tasks like running errands for granted. For individuals with Alzheimer’s, running a simple errand can induce feelings of confusion and even panic. However, it is important for seniors to continue getting out of the house and interacting in social situations. Common errands like grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, and trips to the post office can help people with Alzheimer’s stay connected to their community. Caregivers are often responsible for driving seniors to their errands which creates a safer environment. However, seniors who are able to run their own errands with the help of a driver may experience a greater sense of independence.
8. Taking Medications
For many seniors, taking medications is an essential part of their day. Unfortunately, people with Alzheimer’s may forget to take their prescribed medicines which can lead to health consequences. Reminders may be needed by family members or caregivers to ensure that the person gets the proper dosage at the right times of the day. Many people with Alzheimer’s often refuse to take their medications. While resistance is normal, consider what might be causing the refusal and try different strategies for administering the medicine. If needed, consult with your loved one’s doctor.
How Comfort Home Care Can Help
Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can make performing activities of daily living increasingly difficult. While common ADLs like dressing and eating may not be a problem early on in your loved one’s diagnosis, it can become troublesome as the disease progresses. At Comfort Home Care in Rockville, MD, we offer services designed to make your loved one’s life easier by providing in-home care services. After assessing a senior’s ability to perform ADLs, you can determine where he needs assistance. Comfort Home Care offers in-home care services to individuals residing in private homes, assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals.