Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can be overwhelming to someone who has no experience with the disease. It may be a struggle to communicate daily concerns, much less emotional or mental health issues. Dementia takes away names, faces, and even motor skills, leaving caregivers frustrated that their patients cannot perform simple tasks.
At some point, the disease will take away so much of the patient’s cognitive abilities that the caregiver basically takes over all essential skills like feeding, bathing, dressing up, and the like. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, you have to be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. In this article, we discuss a few things you can do to make a smoother transition into this new life stage.
1. Educate yourself and others
As soon as they are diagnosed, you should learn everything you can about dementia and its markers of progression. Read books and watch videos on the topic, and ask your loved one’s doctors for more detailed explanations if you need them. The more you read about their condition, the better you would be able to empathize with their plight.
You should also inform relatives and other family members. You mustn’t take on dementia care on your own—get whatever support you can from family members, such as taking turns with staying with the patient, assistance with bills, even chores like going out to buy groceries for the household. You will see that every bit helps.
2. Develop routines
The disease will progress—this is a fact—so it is important to set schedules and habits as early as possible. This helps the patient by keeping their day constant, which reduces frustration on their end. Maintain a list of medications and dosages, or get them an electronic pill dispenser or a timer to help you both keep track.
Beyond medication, you must have routines for the house. Get them to exercise at the same time every morning. Walking around the house or the block, callisthenics, or light stretching will help keep them active. Watch their nutrition, as well; limit their intake of refined sugars and increase the vegetables for overall health.
3. Take care of yourself
While it is good to take care of your patient and devote most of your hours to them, you must also take care of your own wellbeing. Remember the principle of first aid on an airplane–you must fit the oxygen mask on yourself before you turn to help others. This is because helping others is impossible when you are unwell yourself.
Have your own exercise routines, recreational activities, and socialization. When caregivers are not careful, they easily burn out. If you are feeling the stresses of your job, talk to someone who knows what it is like. Look for caregiver or dementia support groups in your area, or confide in a relative who also takes care of your patient.
4. Communicate constantly
Art, touch, and music are underrated forms of communication. If your patient is starting to lose their ability to talk, or if they cannot remember the names for things, turn to any of these. You must convey that you are there not as a warden but as someone to care for them. Constantly talking to them in a cheerful, positive way will surely help.
5. Accept them as they are
Your patient will turn into someone who is vastly different from how they were before the condition set in. You have to accept this, and take the relationship day by day. Do not dwell on how they used to be, but remember that they are your loved one.
Don’t try to change them to how they were, but appreciate who they are becoming. For example, arguing with them about forgotten memories is not productive. This will only frustrate them or make them sad. Instead, form new ones with them.
An Alzheimer’s patient is someone who needs a lot of consideration and empathy. Living with a patient won’t be easy, but if you remember to be patient and accept your loved one, things will always be manageable.
If you are looking for help in finding the right memory care consultant for your family in Houston, get in touch with us today. Our certified dementia advisors in Houston, TX will be able to support you through the selection process while providing you with honest, professional consultations on memory care.