As a caregiver this will be your biggest challenge, providing everyday care for people with Alzheimer’s.
Because Alzheimer’s robs the patient of themselves over time, it can be very difficult to watch but the important point to remember is that there are some things you can do to make yourself as well as the AD sufferer feel better…and as a result lessen the burden on you.
Activity and Exercise
Being active and getting exercise helps people with Alzheimer’s better physically. And because exercise releases endorphins in the brain, the physical activity will actually help to make you feel better as well.
Exercise helps to keep their heart, lungs, muscles and joints in good shape. It also helps the AD sufferer to maintain regular sleep patterns for longer. And it enables the patient to continue to do as much for themselves as long as possible.
However, as their caregiver you need to be able to do this while keeping them safe.
Safety Tips For Active Alzheimer’s Patients
- Take a walk with them every day. As a caregiver, it is great exercise for you as well and because they are with you during the walk you know they are safe.
- Make sure that the person has an ID bracelet with your phone number. Or if your local police department has a silver alert system your loved one can get a bracelet for free and have their information on file with the local police department in case they wander off.
- Add music to the exercise…dance is a great exercise and music therapy has been shown to assist some AD sufferers.
- Follow all of the standard exercise protocols: loose clothing, good sneakers and have them drink plenty of fluids before starting.
However as the disease progresses you will find that their physical abilities are more limited with time. As a result exercise will become more difficult. Some possible reasons include…
- Endurance issues
- Poor coordination
- Depression and a general lack of interest
The goal here obviously isn’t to get them a terrific workout but to promote some general activity on their part…
- Use a stationary bike
- Use resistance bands where some of the exercises can be done sitting
- Under your supervision have them perform simple tasks around the house like sweeping and dusting
It is even more important for the person with Alzheimer’s to eat healthy than ever before. There is some research, though this research is not conclusive, that certain elements of a healthy diet, like consuming plenty of antioxidants and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, may slow down the progress of the disease.
(Note: the research is stronger in indicating that consuming antioxidants and Omega-3 essential fatty acids BEFORE contracting Alzheimer’s will help prevent you from getting the disease entirely)
When The Alzheimer’s Patient Lives With You
- Make sure to purchase fruits, vegetables and health amounts of whole grain products
- Buy food that is very easy to prepare
- Have someone make the meals if possible
- If possible, try and elicit the help of a service such as Meals-on-Wheels to bring a prepared, heated meal for them
If the AD sufferer still lives on their own, you may have to do all of the above and add to that a reminder call to remind them to eat…and also what foods they have in the house.
You also will have to check for signs if living alone is no longer an option for someone with AD…
- Rotten food is in the house
- The oven is always left on
- They try to cook a meal and don’t remember to turn the oven on
- The AD sufferer forgets to eat
- Never leave them alone in the shower or tub
- Check the temperature of the water to make sure that they will not be scalded by hot water
- Install rubber mats and grab bars. Also, a shower bench could be invaluable getting them in and out of the tub
- Make sure to use shatter-proof containers for soap and shampoo
- Make sure the bathroom is well let…and if you can arrange to have some music on in the background that could help to calm them down and relax
- Allow them to do as much as possible in the shower. This helps to maintain an element of privacy and respect
- Distract them by talking about something else
- Give them a washcloth to hold. This makes it less likely they will try and hit you in the shower
- When the shower is over, complete dry them (especially between the folds of the skin) to prevent rashes
- If bathing is too difficult for you, hire a home health aide to handle this chore for you
This is all about making someone look good so they feel good. It can be tough at times but proper grooming can go a long way towards having an AD sufferer (especially in the early stages). So as a caregiver you should…
- Show them how to brush their teeth
- Brush your teeth at the same time
- Help them clean their dentures
- If you need to brush their teeth, try an electric toothbrush
- Encourage men to shave and women to use makeup if they have all their lives
- Keep their nails clean and trimmed
- Lay out their clothes…in the order that they have to put them on (underwear on top, then socks, then pants, then shirt)
- Failing that, hand the person one item at a time and give them instructions
- Keep only 1-2 outfits in their closet to limit their choices. Choices create confusion
- Another option is to buy multiple sets of the same exact clothing. This way it limits their choices
- Use Velcro or zipper pulls to aid their dressing
These tips to aid the caregiver in providing everyday care for Alzheimer’s patients was designed to help you care for your loved one and also care for yourself. If you have any other tips please feel free to enter them below…
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