Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are over fifteen million people currently taking time out of their lives to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a daily task that requires caregivers to give up time and energy. The energy exerted is not only physical but also emotional, as caring for a loved one can be a trying task.

Caring for an Alzheimer’s Patient

Depending on how severely affected a person is, caregiving involves varying levels of commitment. Communication is one of the most important—and often difficult—parts of the caregiving process.

Some ways to maintain communication with an Alzheimer’s patient include:

  • Make eye contact while speaking.
  • Use the person’s name and speak directly to her.
  • Use smaller words and do not speak too quickly.
  • Help your loved one when you see her struggling by suggesting words or actions to “fill in the blanks.”

Scheduling Tips for Alzheimer’s Patients

Aside from communication, scheduling is also very important. When any person is accustomed to a schedule, it makes it easier to know what to expect, prepare for daily tasks, and keep interactions friendly. Maintaining a schedule is very important and will make life easier for an Alzheimer’s patient.

  • Get dressed at the same time every day. Encourage your loved one to dress herself as independently as possible.
  • Eat meals at the same time daily. Use meal times to work on memory (e.g., “Do you remember your favorite condiment to put on your hot dog?”) and social interaction.
  • Plan something enjoyable: maybe afternoon walks, trips to the park or even an outing to a museum as often as your schedule permits. Engage in these outings according to a regular schedule.

It can be difficult to be responsible for another person. It can be even more difficult to be responsible for providing care if you do not have much experience. One good way to learn new ways to help your loved one and to relieve stress is to attend support group meetings, where you can talk with others who are in the same situation.

We have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Family Foundation to host meetings here at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson. These meetings are for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients who want to meet with other care givers. The meetings are held the first Tuesday of every month from 10AM until noon. For more information on participating, please contact Maria Curley at (727) 848-8888.

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures (Alzheimer’s Association)

Caregiver Guide (National Institute on Aging)

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care (Helpguide.org)

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