By Jeff Sewell, Home Instead Senior Care
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease for which there is no cure. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, there are steps that can be taken to help not just your family member, but yourself as a caregiver, too.
First, because Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, the best approach to caring for your loved one is to maintain your loved one’s quality of life. Caring for them requires different approaches, so focus on a couple of areas. Start by keeping them engaged in daily activities. You don’t have to schedule special activities – everyday tasks, like helping with the dishes, are easy options. Research tells us that activities are very important; they create positive, emotional experiences helping to diminish the distress that may lead to challenging behaviors.
Second, be aware that Alzheimer’s disease affects the way an individual thinks and feels, and subsequently how they act, so your loved one may do things that are uncharacteristic. Since people with Alzheimer’s cannot control or understand how certain behaviors affect themselves or others, knowing how to respond when these situations occur can be difficult. Try to anticipate these moments and manage their behaviors with information you know about your loved one. One method commonly used to assist with redirecting the behavior is to engage your loved one in conversation about an old photo you might have on hand. This can be a very effective way to redirect them and manage difficult behaviors.
Finally, but most importantly, remember to take time to care for yourself. There are many agencies, both not-for-profit and professional care agencies, ready to assist. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is not easy, so schedule yourself a break and maintain good health. Finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is vital, but in the meantime there are things you can do to help yourself and your loved one. The number of individuals with the disease is increasing due to the aging of the baby boomer generation. In 2000, Indiana had 100,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to grow by an unprecedented 30 percent by 2025.
Jeff Sewell, owner and operator of Home Instead Senior Care, provides services that allow individuals to remain safely in the comfort of their homes and provides support to the family and friends who love them.