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Caring For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s

Coming to terms with the fact that someone you care about has Alzheimer’s is not an easy process, and this is not something about which you should feel ashamed or guilty. Alzheimer’s is without a doubt a life altering condition. Feeling grief or loss is common, as everyone has his or her own way of dealing with the news.

Unfortunately, under the nature of this disease, the person suffering from it is going to need your help more than ever, and it is important to educate yourself about Alzheimer’s in order to be as supportive as possible. Assisting the person you care about is not easy and compromises will have to be made, but it can make life easier for them while you both learn to cope with this condition.

Know Your Own Limitations

One of the most important things you can do to assist the person you care about is to be aware of your own limitations. It is normal to want to take care of the person, but depending on the severity of their condition, they might need constant assistance. However, if you push yourself too hard you will become tired, irritable or even sick, which is not good for anyone.

You might feel guilty if you don’t devote all your energy or time to your loved one, but knowing when to ask for help will prevent you from burning yourself out. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to recover your energy, so call in the help of friends or family members when needed or consider the aid of a professional caregiver. Sharing the responsibility with others can take some of the pressure off you and allow you to provide better care.

Don’t Lose Your Patience

One of the most frustrating things about Alzheimer’s is seeing the person you care about starting to lose track of their thoughts. This can make it very challenging to hold a conversation with them and often leads to the person repeating themselves.

Try not to lose your patience and snap at the person, but instead give them positive responses. Remember that the question or statement will be “new” to the person suffering from the disease and it can be upsetting to them if you don’t react in a calm manner. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is important to avoid arguing, criticizing or correcting your loved one during communication.

Keep To A Routine

To make life easier for a person who has Alzheimer’s, it is vital to establish a routine and then stick to it. Without a routine, it can be very challenging for the person to keep track of what they must do and lead to further confusion. However, if you can get them to fall into a routine, it can streamline certain tasks.

A regular routine will also make things easier for yourself as you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do next. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, a daily routine can help your loved one to maintain their abilities. There is no need to fill every minute of the day with activities though, as your loved one will also need rest and frequent breaks.

Encourage Exercises

Just because your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s there is no reason for them to live a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to further medical complications. Remember, the goal is simply to get the person up and moving, so emphasizing the enjoyment of the exercises is more important than the performance of your loved one. Depending on the physical condition of the person, it is best to stick to low-intensity exercises that they will be able to perform successfully.

According to a study done in Finland, patients living at home and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease benefited from regular exercise. Exercise not only helped to slow the deterioration of their physical functioning, but also reduced the chances of them falling.

Ease Their Frustration

Pin ItNot being able to do the things they previously could is just as frustrating for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s as it is for you to witness. You can help to ease frustration by still involving them in activities that they enjoy, but limiting their choices and reducing distractions.

By imposing limitations, such as a choice of two outfits instead of access to the entire wardrobe, you can help your loved one to cope better with the choices. Ensure that garments are simple and comfortable for the person to wear and don’t hurry them if they take too long to dress themselves. Your loved one will appreciate feeling that they still have some control over their own life.

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Katherine Hurst
By Rachel Nall
She is a 2005 honors program graduate from the University of Tennessee in Journalism and Political Science. Selected as a "Torchbearer" at the University of Tennessee, the highest honor given to a university student. She began her writing career with the Associated Press in Brussels, Belgium. She enjoys writing about health care, her practice and passion. Rachel is a full-time nurse at a 20-bed intensive care unit focusing primarily on cardiac care. She enjoys educating her patients and readers on how to live healthier and happier lives.

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