Noticing symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s and then finding out that a loved one has the disease is frightening. The prospect of watching them suffer is difficult and realizing that their care may fall upon you can be daunting in many ways. Developing a plan for this eventuality can be challenging, usually resulting in a feeling of unpreparedness when it arrives. While there are definite changes that will need to be made to accommodate the diagnosis, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s correctly can make the lives of everyone involved more manageable.
Understanding each of these changes, and how best to approach dealing with them, is an excellent way to make sure that your loved one is as comfortable with the disease as possible. However, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s has very distinct challenges. As the disease progresses, professional home care assistance can ensure that the afflicted individual and their caregiver are properly supported. Comfort Home Care’s licensed home care professionals have undergone specialized training and are certified for Dementia and Alzheimer’s care by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Communication and Memory Loss
One of the most well-known symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. Alzheimer’s operates by destroying large quantities of brain cells, which in turn makes remembering things much more of a challenge than before. This directly impacts the finesse and dexterity your loved one has at actually pronouncing words correctly, or remembering which words properly apply to in specific contexts. It is not uncommon for a person with an excellent vocabulary, or great proficiency in speaking, to see a marked decrease in these abilities.
Communication can also be difficult due to problems remembering what is being talked about. Short-term memory is most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, which can result in a patient to lose their train of thought, or the line of the conversation completely. If multiple languages are understood and spoken by someone who develops Alzheimer’s, secondary or tertiary dialects may be lost.
How to Communicate With Individuals With Alzheimer’s
The most effective ways to combat these communication challenges is to start with patience and understanding. Be conscious of your posture and tone, since many times these are much more apparent and noticeable to your loved one than the words you are speaking. Steady eye contact is an effective means at keeping their attention, while continuously using their name can also keep them focused on the conversation at hand. Encourage two-way communication as much as possible, as this can help practice concentration and assure your loved one that they are not a bother. If appropriate, gentle touching or holding a person’s hand can promote a much deeper connection, reducing the energy needed to stay focused.
When you need to communicate a specific idea, breaking things down to their most basic components and describing them as simply as possible will allow for your loved one to process and respond more easily. Always be sure to reassure them that they are not alone, they are loved and are not considered a burden. Caregivers and family members should remember that Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia. This means that understanding late-stage Dementia and Alzheimer’s will help families to adjust their communication strategy over time.
Personality or Behavior Changes
Due to the constant destruction of brain cells during the experience of Alzheimer’s disease, the brain will begin to function differently, which can manifest itself in how a person behaves and reacts. Anger or frustration can easily become more pronounced, as well as classic symptoms of depression. It is extremely common for them to feel overwhelmed to the point where they stop doing favored activities altogether.
The Important of Routine
Having a daily routine will help in the day to day management of your loved one. Structuring their day so that they are only focusing on one task/activity at a time will help to keep them from becoming overwhelmed.
Sleep schedules and habits are especially susceptible to change, and restlessness around the evening time, called sundowning, is very common. Alzheimer’s patients are prone to getting up in the middle of the night, roaming around and even taking things out of cupboards or cabinets. Effective deterrents for this kind of behavior are to institute a suitable workout routine during the day, limit caffeine towards the end of the day and help them avoid too much napping. If you are able, check on them once or twice in the night to ensure they are getting proper rest.
Many of the factors, symptoms and challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease can change the intimacy your loved one is capable of. Severe memory problems can all but wipe out a life’s entire history, making what was once a source of great togetherness completely foreign and strange. This can affect how close you are with your loved one, or how safe and comfortable they feel with you. Constantly reassuring them that you love them, that others love them too and that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe can go a long way towards keeping them calm and potentially decreasing the likelihood of negative or aggressive reactions.
Emotional Reactions of Caregivers
Conversely, it is very common for feelings of stress and frustration to manifest in the caregiver. It is important to validate these feelings instead of just pushing them down, an action that can cause them to grow to unmanageable levels over time. Practice the same routine, constantly reminding yourself that this is your loved one and these difficulties are nothing compared to actually suffering from the disease. Over time, if managed healthily, it is much easier to gradually slip into the routine, which makes it much more easy to adjust to. Caregivers can share their feelings with their support networks so that they do not feel trapped in their role.
Alzheimer’s Care Can Support Caregivers and Families
Caring loved one with Alzheimer’s is a life-changing experience and it is a job definitely worth doing to the absolute best of your ability. Doing so will not only help your loved one live to the fullest while struggling with Alzheimer’s. Caregivers should remember that they have limitations and that support is available. Support from our Alzheimer’s care services will allow caregivers to have a break from their responsibilities so that they can rest and focus on other important parts of their lives.
Free Home Care Evaluations Are Available!
To discuss the benefits of our professional Alzheimer’s care services, call Comfort Home Care directly or contact us online to schedule a complimentary home care evaluation. We will be able to determine the needs of you and your loved one who struggling with Alzheimer’s and create a customized care plan to fit their needs.