Finding out a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may feel overwhelming. There are a lot of thoughts that may be rushing through your mind. It is, in many ways, life-changing but you’re not alone in this. There are currently 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and this number is projected to rise to 14 million in 2050. The support system, community awareness, and educational opportunities for Alzheimer’s are available and ready to help you and your aging loved one. Caring for and loving someone with Alzheimer’s takes time, patience and support. As professionals in caring for seniors, we have a few tips to help as you support and care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
7 Ways to support an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s
Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Supporting a loved one means understanding what they are experiencing. Educating yourself about Alzheimer’s and Dementia is a great first step in supporting your aging senior. When you are aware of what to expect, it makes it easier to be patient and understanding. Education also helps prepare you for what the future may hold, as Alzheimer’s is often a slow progressing disease with changes in symptoms, abilities, and the level of care required.
Talk openly about Alzheimer’s and any changes that may be occurring.
Open communication of what one is going through is key to any successful relationship but is particularly true of those impacted by a disease like Dementia. Unless it upsets them, ensure that you and your aging loved one communicate changes in signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s if possible so that you can provide the support and level of care needed. Ask questions, observe, and assess the situation and behavior of a loved one with Alzheimer’s to help determine needs. Happy at Home and other care agencies can help with the increasing demands of a safe and comfortable care plan. Taking the time to assess how your aging senior is feeling and the changes they may be experiencing will help ensure they have the best support system in place.
Set realistic expectations.
Set yourself and your loved one up for realistic expectations when it comes to Alzheimer’s. Recognizing the level of care and daily living tasks you are willing and able to assist with and those that you are not is crucial to maintaining a happy, safe, and loving relationship.
The wonderful thing about Happy at Home is that we have flexible hours and pricing, in order to provide respite care for you and/or extra support for your loved one when you need it without obligatory contracts or extra charges for increased levels of care.
Support their emotional needs.
The symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s along with the threat of losing one’s independence can elicit emotions that may often leave one feeling overwhelmed. Empathize with your loved one, have compassion for the changes they are going through, and support them where they are in their process.
There may be times when you get frustrated, angry, or upset by a loved one with the disease. It may be painful when your aging loved one forgets important details, a wedding anniversary, a child’s name, or a special moment from the past. Rather than insisting on correcting, arguing with, or getting angry at them, focus on what they are able to do and enjoy in the present moment. Support them, have compassion, and empathize with them. Loved ones may not remember the events leading up to the anger but they will remember the emotions. Words matter. How we say things and what we say to them matters. Keep the time together pleasant and positive.
Create and stick to routines.
Creating predictable routines and schedules and sticking to them is one way to help your loved one feel responsible and comfortable, A routine will also help to eliminate unnecessary frustrations for all involved when it comes to a care plan and a plan of treatment.
Let them be adults.
Sometimes we may be tempted to baby an aging loved one. It’s natural to want to protect them, help them, and do things for them but it’s important to remember that our loved ones still deserve some independence while they’re able to have it, Giving aging seniors independence will support their happiness and emotional well being. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure that they’re capable of remaining safe. Stove burners left on, missed meals, expired food in the fridge, and doors left unlocked are some indicators that it may be time to consider a higher level of in-home care or assisted living options.
Enjoy an active life together.
Caring for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will have an impact on how you do life together but it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Finding new activities or adapting old ones you can do together, such as; daily walks, baking, card games, puzzles, art and craft projects, exercise, listening to music, singing, and dance can provide fun and enjoyment. Maintaining a nutritious diet and active lifestyle are added healthy bonuses.
Be in the present. Meet your loved one where they are today, not where they were yesterday or where they might be tomorrow, but where they are now. Be happy, be active, and enjoy the time you have together.
Tips to keep in mind when supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s:
- Stay calm and practice patience. Breathe in, breathe out. Take a deep breath and a break when needed. Reevaluate priorities. Resist the temptation to correct or argue with your loved one.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you get rest. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise plan, and social life for yourself. You can only support your loved one if you’re at your best.
- Allow yourself to get extra support when necessary. Don’t be afraid to join an Alzheimer’s support group, ask family members for help, or hire an in-home care service agency like Happy at Home.
- Everyone loves a good laugh, when it seems like a tough day, try adding a little humor.
- Remember your loved one is still a person, and treat them that way. Have them help with ordinary tasks like gardening, doing laundry or going for a walk.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that impacts millions of people worldwide. Every 65 seconds someone in the U.S develops the disease. You are not alone. Your loved one is not alone. Happy at Home is here for you.
Happy at Home is an in-home care company providing exceptional in-home care services including help with grocery shopping, errands, bathing & dressing, transferring, pet care, light housekeeping, meal prep, and more. Our personalized care offers you peace of mind and gives your loved one the one-on-one care they deserve.
We understand what it’s like to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, we are here to help you and your family in whatever way we can as you and your aging loved one go through a new stage of life. Happy at Home is located in Chico, Sacramento and opening up soon in Southern Oregon. Please contact us today to let us know how we can be of service to you or your loved one.