What is it like to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease?

If your parent or spouse has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, or is beginning to show the early signs of the condition, it can be daunting wondering how to care for them and protect them.

There are some key points to keep in mind as the condition progresses, including routine, memory aids, kindness and, above all, patience. The illness is difficult not only for those living with it, but for the people who care for the patient.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive decline in cognitive ability. This includes memory loss, a decline in the ability to care for oneself, and changes in personality. Signs usually begin in the patient’s 60’s.

In the early stages the sufferer begins to miss appointments or regular engagements with friends, and then choose to avoid their friends because they forgot events, or forget the names of friends and family.

Eventually the patient becomes reclusive, and loses interest in hobbies or pastimes that they previously loved, and can be isolated and become lonely. They may become childlike and dependent on their primary carer, and fearful of the world around them, finding it confusing.

How can I care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?

A good support network for the primary carer makes the process of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease less difficult. The responsibility for this care can be challenging, and having family and friends who visit the patient and share the care can make it easier.

It’s important to be patient and stay calm. Repeating information and answering the same question over and over, and having someone adamantly insisting something is true when it’s not, can get frustrating – particularly when you remember so clearly what the person used to be like, and want them back. However frustrated you get try not to argue. Pick which battles are worth the trauma to both parties, and let some issues go. Let the Alzheimer’s sufferer believe it’s Thursday, or July, or 1983, if it means they’ll eat a meal and take their medication.

Memory aids,  such as notes with key information and what time things happen, and always keeping important things in the same place, can help someone with Alzheimer’s to have good days more often and to stay calm. Keeping the same routine to days, with as little change as possible, is another way to help the patient to stay calm and know what is happening.

Key things to consider when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease involve patience, repetition, routine and more patience.

The realities of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease are hard. It is upsetting seeing the changes in their personality, and their loss of independence. It’s hard seeing their distress, and having to care for them body and mind, and it takes a toll. It’s important not to isolate yourself, as a carer, and to keep contact with people outside of the situation who can support you.

If you would be interested in a free memory screening, please contact us today.

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