According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has the sixth highest mortality rate in the United stated and is the fifth leading cause of death in ages 65 and above. It is the only disease in the Top 10 that has no known cure. Because science hasn’t discovered any definitive treatment, the patients are not the only one suffering from the disease but also their family and friends. The great emotional stress experienced by these people make them unable to cope to these challenges.
Recommended by the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, here are some of the guidelines on how to care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Understand the Disease: Alzheimer’s disease is a problem in the brain wherein the brain cells abnormally dies making it hard for the person to think clearly and remember things. They also become easily confused and unable to concentrate. As the problem becomes more serious, caring for them becomes more difficult. Below are some of the challenges encountered and how to deal with it.
- Changes in communication abilities: Persons with Alzheimer’s disease may find it hard to say what they want to say. They may also sometimes become lost even when talking. They are also sensitive in any changes in loudness and tone of voices. To manage these things, the individual caring for the person with AD should encourage a two-way conversation and be careful of his voice’s tone and loudness. Allow the person with AD to make his own choices. They should be patient and understand that the problem is the illness and not the person with AD.
- Changes in behavior and character: Because the nerves in the brain dies, any emotional changes including sudden anger outburst or depression are observed. The patient tend to be bipolar sometimes. They may also wander away from home. He may also stop caring for his personal hygiene. To cope with these, be patient and use humor as much as possible. Ensure that they follow a daily routine and let them help in simple household chores. Be sure that the patient always wear an ID indicating his name and home address. If serious behavioral problems are observed such as paranoia, hallucinations etc., contact his doctor.
- Changes in closeness and familiarity: Person with Alzheimer’s disease also needs love. Although they may become stranger because of lapses in memory, still, let them feel that they are loved and someone cares for them. Make efforts to spend enjoyable time with him.
- Always stay ahead: Plan the health, legal and financial matters. When planning for the future, it is best that the person involved makes his decision. These matters should reflect the person’s wishes.
- Provide everyday care: Always have time for the person with AD every day. This can be done by accompanying him through his daily routine exercises to stay physically active. Prepare healthy and nutritious food and make sure that he eats it well. When the disease becomes more serious, the patient may need help in private activities such as bathing, grooming, tooth brushing, getting dressed etc.
- Plan for everyday activities: When choosing the activities for the person, ensure that he is capable in doing it. It should also be fun for everybody. Let them help in simple household chores. Let the person enjoy the things that he wants like dancing, reading, gardening or even having a pet.
To better understand the disease and how to deal with it, ask the doctor or any health care provider. The internet may also serve as a great source of information. Also, try to search for a group of caregivers that is caring for a patient with the same disease.