With more than 15 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s, the disease has grown to become the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. And as this progressive illness has no cure as of yet, there is only one approach you can take: to support your suffering loved ones by making their lives as straightforward as possible. Here are 10 steps to get you started:
1. Get to Know Alzheimer’s Disease
By reading this list, you’ve already made the first important move. Simply put, the only way to live peacefully with Alzheimer’s in your family is to get to know Alzheimer’s. The better you understand how this disease is influencing someone’s behavior, the better you will be able to handle it with the care it deserves. Continue your quest by reading other online resources, such as the Alzheimer’s Association research center.
2. Remain Positive in Their Company
The words you choose to use when addressing an Alzheimer’s sufferer are less crucial than the way you say them. Everyone delivers their emotions primarily through body language, facial expressions, and demeanor, meaning that you should remain calm and respectful without losing your sense of humor!
3. Learn to Communicate
The easiest method of opening a natural flow of conversation would be to keep everything simple. Ask them one question at a time, only ever seeking a yes or no answer, and consider including visual aids when applicable. Furthermore, do not correct them if they inaccurately remember a certain deal, as this may frustrate someone further. Finally, always call a person by their name, as this shows respect and will help with their concentration.
4. Distract and Redirect
If your loved one’s attitude suddenly takes a turn for the worse and they become irritable or erratic, your smartest move is to calmly alter the direction of the conversation. Acknowledge their current disposition, and then gently guide their thoughts towards a more pleasant topic, such as offering a cup of tea or asking if they want to go for a walk. Changing the TV channel, putting some music on, or even cracking a joke can sidetrack any disorder into a happier place.
5. Stick to a Routine
On the other side of the redirection discussion is the concept of maintaining a sturdy routine. Any interruptions to a regular schedule may unsettle an Alzheimer’s sufferer, which is why you should build a repetitive daily pattern, as this will create an easy to digest familiarity and avoid any abrupt mood changes of confusion.
6. Sleeping Troubles
Those who suffer from dementia often experience severe nightmares and disturbed sleeping patterns, at times even getting out of bed and then walking around aimlessly. The best you can do is try and prevent major injuries by placing a fall mat by their bed, as well as purchasing low-level lights to help them locate the bathroom. If your loved one is sleeping away from home, you can also ease their memory by surrounding the bed with recognizable items.
7. Add Instructions to Everything
Using nothing but the powerful pen-and-paper combination, one can set up a system which effortlessly navigates a person around their own house. Set up to-do lists, appointment diaries, and keep a timetable on the wall. Label what’s in every drawer and cupboard, write a list of emergency numbers by the phone, and place a reminder to lock the door and turn off the gas at night.
8. Avoid Crowded Social Situations
When it comes to the important topic of socializing, less is definitely more. A loud, noisy environment with multiple conversations firing back and forth will be a difficult scene for someone with Alzheimer’s to follow, and this may overwhelm them. Rather stick to a peaceful walk with one or two people that they trust for a more predictable result.
9. Encourage Physical Activity
Speaking of peaceful walks, increasing one’s fitness levels does not require a massive lifestyle change, and can be as simple as a regular stroll in the park. This will not only improve their heart and blood pressure but will also build better muscles to decrease the chance of a nasty fall. Not to mention that this also works as a fun distraction, most likely blossoming into a good mood almost immediately.
10. Get Additional Support
One of the hardest aspects of dealing with Alzheimer’s in your life is to know when to get outside assistance. Start by attending talks and finding support groups in your local area, as these will provide you with first-hand advice and the best ideas to apply to your own current circumstances. And always remember that you are not alone!