Living with a Senior with Alzheimer’s Disease: Making Your Life Easier
Living with a senior parent or relative who needs extra care and attention is challenging on its own. But living with and caring for someone who’s suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can make providing aged care doubly hard.
There are many families that decide to care for their elderly members at home. This can be an overwhelming task and one that brings a lot of challenges on a daily basis, especially if the senior is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Every day, the carer will have to cope with the changes in the elderly’s attitude, abilities, behavioural patterns, etc. Aside from that, simple everyday tasks that the person was able to do without any difficulty in the past, like bathing, eating, dressing up, crossing the road, and going up the stairs, could now be difficult to manage.
Sometimes, things can get too overwhelming that it leaves the carer no other choice but to place their elderly parent or relative into respite care. However, there are ways to make your family’s life easier even when you’re living with a senior who has Alzheimer’s.
Caring for an Elderly with Alzheimer’s at Home
Each person with Alzheimer’s will react to different strategies. As the disease progresses, so will the effectiveness of those methods. Here are some tips to make it easier for any provider of aged care.
- Formulate a daily routine
By understanding your loved one’s behavioural patterns, you can alter routines and make things easier for you. Some Alzheimer’s patients tend to be more cooperative or are less confused in the mornings. If your parent or relative is more lucid during this time, make the most of these moments by adjusting your routines.
You can schedule bath time or a bit of physical activity at times when they are most alert. But, keep in mind that things could change drastically, so always be alert.
- Always communicate
If you are providing aged care for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you have to know that there will always be times when he will become confused. This makes your job more challenging. This is why you need a great deal of patience dealing with someone who’s suffering from this disease.
To make communication simpler, always use a calm voice when talking to your elderly. Use simple words, too. Get him to focus on the conversation by minimising distractions or other noises, like the TV or radio. Before addressing him, make sure his attention is solely to you.
Give them time to respond. If they are struggling to comprehend everything you’re saying, calmly remind them of words that they may be having a hard time remembering or saying.
- Make time for a bath
Oftentimes, bathing is a scary experience for those in home cares. Others become agitated because they will think that they have just showered.
Again, it’s best to schedule everyday activities at times when your ageing loved one is more lucid. Always be gentle and patient with him. Inform him what you are going to do to not confuse him and make sure to test the water before starting.
If your elderly has mobility issues, it’s best to install mobility equipment in the shower area to make it easier for you to give him a bath. These include grab bars, shower bench, and mats. Never leave him alone to avoid any accidents.
After bathing or showering, have him get dressed right away. This will make him get used to the routine, preventing confusion. Allow him to dress or choose what he wants to wear. If he has a favourite clothing item, it would be wise to buy the same style in various colours. To make the process faster, arrange the clothes in the order they are put on so your elderly will be guided properly.
- Make mealtime adjustments
Over time, the motor functions of a person with Alzheimer’s will diminish. Sometimes, he may want to eat all the time, while at some occasions would need some encouragement. To make providing home cares easier, make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your elderly family member gets the nutrition he needs.
Before mealtime, make sure there are no distractions in other rooms to get him to focus on the activity at hand. Take this time as an opportunity to interact with him. But be sure to be extra patient.
Allow your senior to choose what he wants to eat from a limited number of choices. Offer appealing foods in various textures, colours, and taste to entice him. Make sure that you serve food in small portions throughout the day. Also, let him use utensils that allow him to eat independently.
- Find activities that interest your elderly
Maintain functional skills by making time for activities that keep your parent or relative’s physical or mental functions active. It would be best to work on activities that he is comfortable doing and are familiar to him.
Start by breaking the activity down into small steps. Praise him when he successfully completes something. Encourage him in a calm voice when he shows signs of frustration.
- Watch out for signs of incontinence
As the disease progresses, the patient may lose control of his bladder and bowel movement. It can be an embarrassing situation for him. Consult your doctor if your senior loved one is showing signs of incontinence because it may indicate an underlying medical condition.
Make home cares easier by sticking to a bathroom schedule. Take your elderly every three hours for a toilet break and every 30 minutes after every meal. Be sure to know when he is showing signs that he needs to go to the bathroom, like restlessness and agitation.
When he loses control, be patient and understanding enough. Stay calm and reassure him that it’s just an accident. Avoid giving him any fluids before bedtime to avoid unfavourable situations.
- Deal with delusions and hallucinations
Over time, old people with Alzheimer’s will begin to hear, see, smell, feel, or taste something that’s not actually there. Sometimes, these can be a sign of a health problem, like urinary tract infection. Visit their doctor as soon as possible once they start showing signs of hallucinations and delusions.
Sometimes, what they are seeing or hearing can scare them. Be sure to comfort them and respond to their feelings in a positive way. Also, make sure the room where they are staying is safe and does not have anything that they could use to harm themselves.
Hiring Professional Caregivers
Sometimes, it will get to a point where everything becomes overwhelming for the carer. This is why it’s best to hire professionals who can provide home cares services.
Arcare Aged Care offers in-home services weekly, daily, or on an as-needed basis. Contact us today for more information.