Alzheimer’s Awareness: How to Help Your Loved One

Did you know that September is World Alzheimer’s Month? It provides an opportunity for people everywhere to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. The month will culminate in World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21. Additionally, this month is an excellent time to try and understand the experience of someone who lives with Alzheimer’s and the impacts it can have.

Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. It can be challenging to know how to help your loved one if they have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, there are several things you can do to help make their life a little bit easier.

Early-Stage Tips

For people who are helping a loved one living with the early stages of dementia, we have compiled a list of possible activities that might help improve their quality of life. It is important to engage individuals living with dementia with activities that are meaningful to them. Abilities will vary depending on the individual however steps can be taken to customize the activity to their level. Some people may still be able to go to work and attend social functions during the early stages. Staying connected to family, friends and community can create a sense of purpose and contribute to overall well-being.

Another suggested activity to do together is to keep a daily journal. This can be as simple as recording the day and weather and become as advanced as sharing feelings.

Middle-Stage Tips

The 5 Rs of Dementia Care can help the family caregiver understand the behavioral expressions seen in their loved one as the disease progresses. The 5 Rs include remaining calm, responding to feelings, and reassuring the person that they are safe.

This advice ties into other tips that involve not taking the behavioral expressions of someone living with dementia personally. For example, there is no point in arguing facts with someone who believes that a deceased loved one is in the room with them. Instead, experts recommend that caregivers step into the reality of the person living with dementia, validate their feelings, and redirect them with an activity that is meaningful to them.

Late-Stage Tips

Especially during the early stages of dementia, a family caregiver may be able to cope with care needs, but as the disease advances, there are more physical demands and caregivers should take care of themselves too.

Care for the caregivers can include everything from finding an online or local support group to talk about challenges, eating healthy, paying attention to the signs of stress, hiring professional backup care for your loved one, and planning appropriately for anticipated needs.

Here are some additional ways to assist your loved one:

Maintain Routines. Consistency is very important for someone living with Alzheimer’s, so it’s vital to maintain routines whenever possible. Even if your loved one has trouble communicating how they feel, having familiar routines will bring them comfort and peace.

Keep Track of Appointments. It can be challenging for anyone to remember all the appointments they have scheduled, and it is especially difficult for someone living with memory loss. You can help the person in your care by keeping track of things such as appointments, medications, events, and even recipes in a notebook. Having these reminders organized and written down in a concrete format can serve as a tremendous resource for your loved one.

Plan Activities They Enjoy. Your loved one may be going through lots of changes but it’s still important to help them do things they enjoy. Spending time with them can improve their quality of life and help manage anxiety they may be exhibiting. Music can be very calming and stimulating for memory, so try listening to their favorite music. You can also present them with an instrument they used to play and dance or hum along to any music they create. Going for a walk can also be a peaceful and enjoyable activity for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Just make sure the area you are walking in is safe and clear of debris. You can also walk around a local store or museum. Additionally, you can work on puzzles, painting, or drawing together.

Serve Meals in a Consistent Place. As mentioned before, consistency is key for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Be sure to serve their meals in a consistent place to help mitigate any stress or confusion at mealtimes. Make sure the eating area is quiet and free from distractions. Try to offer foods the person is familiar with.

If you or a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s, our specially trained memory care experts can work with you to develop a unique plan of care. To learn more, call your local Homewatch CareGivers today.

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