Millions of Americans assume the role of caretaker or caregiver for a loved one who is afflicted with a condition and requiring assistance. Coming to terms with an unfortunate diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease and determining the appropriate level of care that is required to help a loved one can be challenging and emotionally taxing. For many individuals, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is not the only person’s job; they often juggle this role with their own full-time job and other responsibilities.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that may cause an individual to lose their memory, become agitated or confused, and eventually fail to perform daily tasks such as bathing and dressing. Due to the progressive nature of the disease, different levels of care are required at the various stages of AD. Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is not always easy, but with some guidance, there are ways to ensure that both you and your loved one are properly taken care of.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
A consistent schedule is a great way to provide some solace and familiarity for a loved one who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping a routine, writing things down on to-do lists, and planning enjoyable activities will help a day go as smoothly as possible. When planning out days, try to keep mealtimes and locations consistent, as this offers comfort to those with Alzheimer’s as well.
Tip #2: Communicate Clearly and Compassionately
As AD progresses, an individual may become agitated, withdrawn, or angry. This attitude and behavior may trigger a reaction from a caretaker to become frustrated or impatient, but it is important to take a step back and recognize that this is merely an uncontrollable symptom of the condition. To mitigate stress and discomfort for all parties, be sure to speak slowly and calmly. Offering words of encouragement, bringing up pleasant topics, or even just showing photos of familiar places and people is a great way to connect with a loved one. Above all, don’t forget to respect your loved one’s personal space, show that you are listening to them, and allow them to be in control of their own life as much as possible.
Tip #3: Take Care of Yourself
It is easy to be so focused on the care you are offering that you forget to check in with yourself as a caregiver. Caretaking is an important yet challenging role to assume, and it is critical to understand that you cannot provide the greatest level of support without taking care of yourself in the process. Be sure to take necessary breaks to prevent burnout and confide in those you trust to process emotions of fear, sadness, or frustration. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be daunting, but with acceptance, patience, preparation and support, the road ahead can be manageable.
If you or someone you know is living with Alzheimer’s disease, consult a healthcare professional for guidance. BTC of New Bedford is currently enrolling patients with Alzheimer’s disease for a clinical trial in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Learn more today about this opportunity – you or a loved one may receive treatment at no cost to you and contribute to the advancement of medical research for current and future generations.