Alzheimer's management at home for elderly

Updated on Sep 30, 2022 04:48 PM IST

There is a wide range in the abilities and preferences of Alzheimer's patients when caring for them. Consider incorporating these ideas into your loved one's care plan if you want to give them the best chance of living a long, healthy life at home despite having Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's management at home for elderly(Andrea Piacquadio)
Alzheimer's management at home for elderly(Andrea Piacquadio)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

When an elderly family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a majority of families choose to care for them in the comfort of their own homes but as the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to care for an Alzheimer's patient at home. Every day brings new challenges, turns in the plot and role reversals.

Alzheimer's disease caregivers' frequently develop individualised plans to address their loved one's particular set of symptoms but as the patient's illness worsens, the effectiveness of various interventions may shift. It takes some experimentation to figure out what works best for you and the patient.

According to health experts, Alzheimer's patients benefit from having a routine to complete each day. It's important to observe the routines and rhythms of your loved one's emotions and actions. Then, you can adjust your aims and course of treatment accordingly. You may find that your day goes more smoothly if you schedule activities to take advantage of their lucidity first thing in the morning.

There is a wide range in the abilities and preferences of Alzheimer's patients, so flexibility is the key when caring for them. Consider incorporating the following ideas into your loved one's care plan if you want to give them the best chance of living a long, healthy life at home despite having Alzheimer's:

1. Conversation with a person who has Alzheimer's

A family caregiver's ability to interact with and understand an Alzheimer's patient is crucial to the care they can provide for their Alzheimer's patient. Patients and caregivers both feel more frustration and confusion when there is a communication breakdown. Training and tolerance can help people interact better and perform their regular care duties more effectively.

Talking about communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's, Dr Yogini, BAMS and Wellness Coach for LivLong, suggested, "Connecting through a person's senses such as touch, visual cues and sound is essential to communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's disease, in addition to using language. Communicate in an easy going manner by using straightforward words and short sentences, in a way that is easy to understand for someone with Alzheimer's but doesn't indulge the patient unduly.”

2. Recognise their worth and refrain from disregarding them

If the person is having trouble hearing you, ask them to lower the volume of any background noise, such as the TV or radio.

3. Whenever they start talking, do not ignore them

Listen carefully to what they are saying, but also keep an eye out for any nonverbal cues that might help you figure out what they mean. Learn to effectively communicate using nonverbal cues like expressions, gestures and metaphors. Transform open-ended questions into pick-one-from-a-list formats.

4. Change how you live

People with Alzheimer's disease often struggle with the basics of self-care such as bathing, dressing and eating. To preserve your loved one's pride, you must become knowledgeable about the specific effects of memory loss on each ADL, rearrange the order in which they occur and make any necessary modifications to the associated routines or material items.

Talking about how important it is to change the way you live when taking care of an Alzheimer's patient, Dr Prateek Bhardwaj, COO at Vesta Elder Care, recommended, “Providing bona fide treatment and comforting our loved ones' who suffer from Alzheimer's with the best possible care will benefit both the patient and caretaker’s quality of life. Indulging in light physical activities and brain motility exercise will help in minimizing the disease progression.”

5. Bathing

Most people with Alzheimer's find the act of taking a bath to be both frightening and baffling. Some seniors may not realise it has been days or weeks since they last showered. Combining the effects of water and falling could lead to disorientation and panic. If you put some thought and effort into getting ready, you might find that bath time goes more smoothly.

6. Dressing

Dressing can be difficult for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Seniors who are physically or mentally impaired may struggle to change out of soiled clothing and footwear. If constraints can be eased, people are better able to exercise their freedom.

7. Bathroom use and continence management

As Alzheimer's progresses, the patient loses control of their bowel and bladder functions. Both the elderly and their caretakers may feel embarrassed by incontinence. Incontinence that suddenly worsens or improves could be a symptom of urinary tract infection or another serious illness.

7. Eating

There is a wide range of food intake among Alzheimer's patients. Fine motor skills and the ability to taste and smell can be negatively impacted by aging and Alzheimer's. To aid weight loss, shifting meal times may be tried. Talking about the change in diet for Alzheimer's patients, Kamayani Naresh, Health Expert and Founder of Zyropathy, advised, "Provide healthy options such as Omega-3, fruits and vegetables rich in zinc, calcium and iron, supplements which can provide blood thinning, whole grains, dairy products and lean proteins. Eat fewer foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Although some fat is necessary for good health, not all fats are created equal. Reduce their intake of saturated fats (butter, solid shortening, lard and fatty meats). Alzheimer's can be reverted back by taking combination of supplements recommended by experts.”

Providing care for a person with Alzheimer's disease becomes increasingly challenging, dangerous and expensive as the disease progresses. Caregivers must be aware of any significant changes in their loved one's condition and educate themselves on available treatment choices as the task of daily caregiving for someone with Alzheimer's disease grows.

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