Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is devastating for the entire family. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips on how to cope with the day-to-day struggles of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Here are ideas to help in your care and ongoing relationship with a loved one who suffers from dementia:
Coping with Delusion. Your loved one may hold onto beliefs that simply aren’t true. Delusions can occur in middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s. The confusion and memory loss that often comes with dementia can contribute to delusions. Though these beliefs are not reality, they can feel very real to your loved one.
- It’s best not to argue or try to convince.
- Let your loved one express their feelings and ideas.
- Listen and acknowledge their opinions.
- You can also share your thoughts in a way that is simple and easy to understand, don’t over explain or overwhelm them.
- Comfort your loved one if they are afraid.
- Avoid violent or upsetting TV programs. Your loved one may believe these events are happening in the room.
- Distract your loved one, go outside for a walk or go into another room.
Coping with Frustration and Anger. Aggression and anger could be a symptom of the disease. These emotions can also occur when your loved one is feeling frustrated, fearful or confused. It’s important to remember that your loved one is not reacting on purpose, even when there is no apparent reason for their reactions. There are steps you can take to make them feel better and try to help keep outbursts from happening.
- Try to determine the cause of their frustration. What happened right before the reaction? Then try to reduce its causes.
- Reduce chaos and frustration by eliminating clutter and loud or distracting noises.
- Try helping your loved one relax by playing soothing music, letting them hold the family dog, using aromatherapy or doing an activity like going for a walk or exercising.
- Speak slowly and softly, reassure them.
- Don’t rush them, take conversations and activities slowly.
- During an outburst shift the focus to another activity.
- Be sure to rule out pain, many Alzheimer’s patients cannot express when they are in pain and suffer silently. Pain often can lead to anger. UpliftedCare can ensure your loved one is comfortable and free of pain even when they are no longer able to communicate their needs.
- If you can, allow yourself to walk away and take a break.
Coping with Communication and Understanding. People with dementia have issues with words and language. Better communication can make it easier to meet the needs of your loved one, and for you to understand each other.
- Keep communication simple.
- When speaking to your loved one, maintain eye contact. Take your time, speak slowly, use short sentences and present only one idea at a time.
- Use your hands and body language to help get your ideas across.
- Give them time to respond, because they may feel pressured if you try to speed up their answers.
- Don’t talk over them or interrupt. Encourage them to participate in conversations with others when possible.
Coping with Sleep Problems. People with dementia might experience a phenomenon in the evening or during the night called sundowning. Your loved one may feel confused, agitated, anxious and even become aggressive.
- Establishing a routine can help. Nighttime rituals are a great comfort to dementia patients.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine and wake up time. Also maintain regular meal times.
- Discourage afternoon naps and avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. Avoid other stimulates in the evening like TV or loud music.
- Create a relaxing environment before bedtime. Help your loved one relax by reading to them or playing soft music. Make sure the bedroom is a comfortable cool temperature.
When is it Time for an Extra Layer of Support?
As Alzheimer’s progresses your role as a caregiver will change. In Early-stage Alzheimer’s, when your loved one is first diagnosed, they may need less support. In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, most people still function independently. In this stage, your role as a caregiver will be more focused on support and planning for the future. As the disease progresses, your loved one will need more support and more resources. During Late-stage Alzheimer’s you and your loved one most likely would benefit greatly from an extra layer of support. Your role as their caregiver would shift to focusing on preserving comfort, quality of life and dignity. All benefits that UpliftedCare brings to both the patient and the family. Our blog: Getting Help When a Loved One Suffers from Dementia provides more insights on when it may be time for support from UpliftedCare.
We hope these tips for Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s helps you better navigate this distressing illness. Never feel like you have to handle this journey alone, UpliftedCare can help both you and your loved one by providing care that eases the stress and burdens of dementia. If your loved one is living in a nursing home, our care is also available, allowing not only an extra layer of care but expertise in dementia care.
Reach out to us today for answers, support and solutions. We can help determine what services are best for you and your loved one and answer any questions about how to begin receiving uplifting support for your loved one with dementia and for you, their caregiver.