There are plenty of challenges that come with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s at home. The challenges can become increasingly difficult as the condition progresses. It is understandable why families would want to care for their loved one at home for as long as they could.
Being in a familiar environment and surrounded by familiar faces can prove highly beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients. Just be prepared for unexpected changes in behavior and functional abilities, among others.
How to Care for Someone with Alzheimer’s at Home
Alzheimer’s care is not similar to patients. Professional caregivers such as here at Coast Family Home Care take into account various factors to cater to the unique needs and demands of the client. It all depends on the condition, situation and demands of the client. If you are caring for your loved one at home, expect that your strategy now may no longer work as the condition progresses. Be quick to adapt to these unexpected challenges and changes throughout the course of your loved one’s illness.
Here are few things to do when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home:
Establish a daily routine
Routines can help people with Alzheimer’s be more focused and oriented. Establishing a daily routine can be easy at home since the patient is already more likely accustomed to such routines prior to their illness.
There are activities that certain people enjoy and other people don’t. Observe their behavior and mood and look for things that they are most interested in. Just adapt as needed and make necessary adjustments and changes because the abilities, preferences and functionality of people with Alzheimer’s tend to fluctuate throughout the day.
Learn to communicate better
Communication is highly important in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Without proper communication, the patient can become frustrated when misunderstood. They also get frustrated when you can’t relay instructions to them in a manner that they can understand.
Communicating can be quite challenging. It will take a lot of practice and interaction, but it is doable. Follow these tips:
- Speak clearly and slowly.
- Remain calm and gentle when speaking and use short sentences and simple words as possible.
- Talk to them with respect and never communicate with them as if they are a baby.
- When communicating, minimize background noise and distractions.
- Do not interrupt when they are talking.
- Be patient and allow them to take time when responding.
- Interpret their gestures and nonverbal cues when you can’t understand what they are saying.
- Avoid asking open-ended questions and provide them with choices.
Adapt activities of daily living
Alzheimer patients may increasingly have difficulty performing activities of daily living and basic personal care tasks as their cognitive and functional abilities decline. Understand that Alzheimer’s not only affects memory and cognitive ability, but one’s personality, behavior and physical function as well.
It is important to help persons with Alzheimer’s with activities of daily living in a dignified and compassionate manner. These include bathing and dressing, toileting and incontinence care, eating and more.
Encourage socialization and find engaging activities
Keep them engaged and occupied. Understand first their hobbies and favorite activities. Make sure that the activities you provide them match their abilities and interests. It is easier for them to perform tasks and activities already familiar to them. Here are some things you can do:
- Break the tasks and activities into small steps and give them time to get started
- Watch for signs of frustration, irritation and agitation. Gently redirect their attention and help them with the task at hand to ease their frustration.
- Encourage activities that help maintain functional skills such as allowing them to help clean up and set the table during mealtimes.
- Find opportunities for Alzheimer’s patients to socialize.
Improve home safety
Create a safe home environment for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Start by conducting a safety assessment of every corner and room of the home. Identify hazards and correct them accordingly to prevent potential dangers and injuries. Do the following:
- Declutter the house and remove stuff such as throw rugs which may pose risks of slip and fall.
- Remove the locks in rooms, including the bathrooms, to prevent Alzheimer patients from unknowingly locking themselves in.
- Keep all the medications locked safely in the medication box or cabinet and label them all correctly.
- Keep scissors, knives, guns, matches, lighters, power tools and other sharp and dangerous items out of reach.
- Always check the stove, oven and other kitchen appliances to prevent house fires and burns.
Research on personality and behavioral changes to better manage them
Many people with Alzheimer’s undergo changes in their behavior and personality. Among these changes include sleep problems and sundowning which can make the person irritable, restless and agitated in late afternoons and evenings. They may also be prone to wandering, hallucinations and delusions. Be sure to recognize these changes and address them accordingly.
If you wish to learn more about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s at home or if you need a home care agency for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, reach out to Coast Family Home Care.