How To Support A Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease
Apr 23, 2019 03:36
If someone in your family has Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain condition characterized by memory loss, emotional instability, and steady loss of independence, you’ve probably found yourself wondering who will take care of them and how – and it’s a question that won’t go away any time soon. Rather, your family member will need comprehensive care for the remainder of their life, either from you or someone else. It’s an intimidating situation, and you shouldn’t have to tackle it alone.
The sooner you take steps to provide high-quality care for a relative with Alzheimer’s, the better their quality of life will be. Start today with these three steps and don’t forget to seek support of your own as well. Caregivers carry a heavy burden, and you can’t do this alone.
See A Doctor
The first step involved in providing proper care for a family member with Alzheimer’s is to see a doctor. While your relative likely has a medical team in place, they may not be able to handle their own medical care anymore, and you’ll want to become their power of attorney or their medical proxy while they’re still lucid. Their doctor will be able to provide you with guidance and resources, as well as prescribe any medications and supplements. The antioxidant Astaxanthin has been found to help slow disease progression, and the doctor may recommend this or other memory care treatments.
Consider A Care Facility
While it is possible to care for a family member with Alzheimer’s at home, over time, you will need additional help. This can be done by having family and friends take shifts, but this can be difficult on your mental and physical health and severely diminish everyone’s quality of life. Instead, rather than pushing your body and your community to the limits, consider finding a memory care facility that can help you and provide professional care.
Memory care facilities specialize in the management of conditions like Alzheimer’s and, much like assisted living facilities, memory care centers provide support with activities of daily living, can provide skilled nursing care as needed, and have special features designed to keep those with dementia safe. Many with Alzheimer’s and related conditions wander away from home, including at night. These facilities also provide structured activities to help patients retain as much memory function as possible.
Put Safety First
During the early phases of caregiving, it’s important that you develop a safety plan for your loved one, both for day-to-day activities and for emergencies. For example, an individual with Alzheimer’s may need supervision while doing particular tasks, should no longer drive as they are likely to get lost, and should have guidance when taking medication. You should, however, provide as many tools as possible to enable them to remain independent, including creating a visual schedule, asking supportive questions, and labeling supplies and rooms to help them navigate tasks.
Over time, it will become more difficult for you to continue caring for your family member at home, which is why memory care facilities are so important. However, if you want to continue supporting your loved one at home for as a long as possible, you’ll need to learn how to handle agitation and emotional outbursts. These fits can happen regularly in those with more advanced memory loss due to boredom, confusion, or communication issues. Music or pet therapy, exercise, and medication can all help diminish these outbursts.
Memory loss is lifechanging for everyone that it touches, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources out there that you can turn to for support and your family deserves all the support and care possible.
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