7 things to remember if you love someone with Alzheimer’s

With nearly six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, it is likely most of us know someone with this type of dementia that causes memory loss as well as basic thinking and behavior functions.

Because symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, the hardest part may be on the loved ones and caregivers who must be attentive and loving but patient with the failing abilities.

As the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s takes more lives every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018, including an estimated 5.5 million people 65 and older and approximately 200,000 under 65.

As someone who has seen the disease take hold of loved ones, , Alzheimer’s is something that hits close to home.

Here are some tips I’ve found to help.

 

Be educated

The best thing to do is educate yourself on Alzheimer’s.  

Knowledge about Alzheimer’s can help you understand what is to come and provide the confidence to make important decisions as the disease progresses.

 

Make use of the time you have

My biggest regret was not calling my great-grandmother enough.

Now that her daughter, my grandmother, is suffering from Alzheimer’s,  I make sure to cut out at least one day a week to go and spend some time with her, even if it’s only for an hour.

Not only does it make her day to see me, I am also able to check up on her at the same time.


Remember, you’re not alone

Imagining the road ahead can be very scary for you and your loved one.

There are people who understand what you are going though, and help is available.

The Ark of Summerville is a great local organization that provides hope and relief to families living with Alzheimer’s Disease through support services such as respite care, support groups, education, caregiver consultations, and resource referrals.

 

Take care of yourself

Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is hard work, and you may find yourself with so many responsibilities that you neglect taking care of yourself.

It is important to remember the care you provide makes a difference; there is only so much one person can do.

You cannot stop the progressiveness of the illness, but there is a lot that you can do to take responsibility for your own well being.

 

Be patient

This time may extremely difficult, but imagine how difficult it is for your loved one?

Simple tasks may take longer than normal, misplacing items becomes a reoccuring event, and finding the right words can be increasingly difficult.

If you don’t understand what your older adult is trying to say, gently let them know and ask them to say it in another way.

Showing patience and reassurance will provide patients with the confidence and support needed to remain engaged in life.

 

Maintain their independence as long as possible

It is common for family members and caregivers to assume someone with Alzheimer’s is incapable of performing daily activities without assistance.

Do not underestimate the patient’s abilities, and allow your loved ones to feel as though they can take care of themselves for as long as possible.

By encouraging independence, the person’s ability to function will increase, as well as his/her confidence.

It can be difficult to decide when your loved one is no longer safe living alone,  but there are resources to help.

 

Remain calm

It’s natural to get angry and frustrated, but it’s important to be mindful of the way you express it.

One reason is that people with Alzheimer’s are sensitive to your moods.

Try your best to avoid making your loved one feel inferior or childlike due to their mistakes because this can lead to feelings of low self-worth.

 

The Alzheimer’s Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease.

To learn more click here, or call its 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

by Maghan Mueller

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