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5 Tips For Caring for Seniors With Alzheimer's

The journey of caring for seniors with Alzheimer's Disease is long and painful. But, there are also countless joys along the way. If you're just beginning the journey, there are steps you can take to provide the best companionship and loving support along the way. 

1. Understand Personality Changes

Alzheimer's is caused by inflammation in the brain in response to plaque buildups and neurofibrillary tangles in cells. These cell mutations detract from normal brain function, resulting in increasing confusion and memory loss. 

Seniors with Alzheimer’s face several common struggles as their brain deteriorates. This leads to odd and sometimes irrational behavior, such as talking about people who aren’t visible, pacing, wandering from home, hitting others, and practising poor hygiene. 

It is important to understand these struggles and help your loved one continue to develop strong relationships with you and others. 

You should never get upset or lose your temper, as that will only make things worse. Be sure to breathe deeply and try to stay calm, even if you need to leave the room for a moment. 

Speak clearly and simply, limiting conversation to one topic at a time. Do all you can to reassure the patient. Above all, try to establish a consistent schedule so that patients can rely on certain things happening every day. To keep them occupied, give them plenty of entertainment options and invite them to help with simple tasks. 

2. Create a Safe Home Space

You may see a change in the way your loved ones behave at home. They will likely forget things they used to remember, such as turning off the tap or stove. They may also trip on the stairs and experience changes in their vision and hearing. 

It's easy to take steps to help with this. Try painting walls different colors. You can also add bright paint or tape to the edges of staircases so they are easily distinguishable. Remove clutter and limit mirrors in the house so that your loved ones aren't confused by the reflected images. 

Use lots of signs to identify things: rooms, hot or cold faucets, toasters that get hot quickly, important phone numbers, and sharp knives. Also, make sure good smoke detectors are installed and medications and cleaning supplies are locked away safely. 

You may also need to check the refrigerator for expired foods since seniors with Alzheimer’s often lose their sense of taste and smell. 

3. Engage in Activities

Alzheimer's can be a lonely disease for patients who are losing their memory and perception. It's important to keep them entertained and engaged in the world. Try planning fun things to do every week, such as going out for walks in the neighborhood or park, taking drives, practicing dance moves, listening to music, engaging in arts and crafts, or gardening. 

You may also want to check out the local Alzheimer's Association Chapter. They often host events, provide support groups, and offer social engagement opportunities for seniors with Alzheimer’s. 

Inviting family and friends to visit can be a very important step in helping your loved one find joy in life. Try to limit gatherings to small groups of people, and make sure you know what time of day will be best. When visitors arrive, help your loved one navigate conversations in order to decrease confusion on their part. 

4. Take Care of Yourself

It's important to keep your mind and body healthy so you can effectively care for your loved one. You already know how to keep your body strong: exercise daily, eat a balanced diet, and consult your doctor regularly about any health issues.

You may also want to make sure that you soak up some fresh air and sunshine every day. 

Of course, the hardest part of caring for seniors with Alzheimer's is maintaining your emotional health. Find activities that can reduce stress, such as yoga, art projects, gardening, baking, reading, or music. Pick what works for you and make time for it every day. Also, be sure to talk to people who will lift your spirits. 

While a relationship with your loved one is important, it may change daily due to personality shifts or confusion on their part. It's essential to have others to talk to who can help you find humor and joy in mundane daily activities. 

Still, you'll always need to take a break or two during the day to refocus, whether that means calling a friend, praying, meditating, or spending some time writing in a journal. Always do your best to be grateful for what you have and find ways to enjoy the company of your loved one, even as changes occur. 

5. Find Help

Taking care of a loved one is a precious and unique calling, and it is important for seniors with Alzheimer's to connect with their family members. However, there will be times when the stress becomes overwhelming and you need to take a break for a while. You may want to ask for help from family members and friends, if you have that option available. 

If not, Senior Care Helpers can give you the support you need, whether it's long or short-term. We understand how precious your loved one is, which is why we develop a personalized care plan for each individual. We can help with respite care when you need a vacation, or we can offer help daily or weekly. 

We also offer overnight care for those of you who need to be home for the evening hours. When you're ready to return, we can help you identify the best strategies and resources to engage with your loved one and make your time together more joyful. 

At Senior Helpers, we understand the challenges of caring for seniors with Alzheimer's, but know that you aren’t alone. Try the above tips or contact us to get the support you need so you can enjoy each day with your loved one without worry. We’re pleased to serve Ephrata, Lititz, Manheim, and the surrounding areas. If you have questions about our services and areas of services, please don’t hesitate to reach out.