Living with Alzheimer’s: How to Care for Loved Ones
Home Instead® shares guidance for managing care of older adults with dementia during World Alzheimer’s Month
OMAHA, NEB. (PRWEB) September 21, 2021 - The impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system has caused a disruption in Alzheimer’s diagnosis. In fact, according to the recently published 2021 World Alzheimer’s Report, up to 90% of clinicians identified COVID-19 as causing additional delays and wait times to what was already an often difficult and protracted process. If someone is showing signs of dementia, there are actions loved ones can take to help manage the symptoms.
“Dementia affects everyone differently, and some dementia-related behaviors can put individuals at risk,” said Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “While caring for an individual living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related disease can feel overwhelming, being aware of symptoms and having a plan in place to address them can help families feel prepared to care and support their older loved one.”
When considering care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s, the main objectives should be to personalize care and maximize independence. Home Instead provides guidance for care partners to help loved ones age safely at home:
- Prevent wandering. People with dementia can wander for various reasons, such as to alleviate boredom or search for something familiar. If your loved one is prone to wandering, practice sticking to a routine, avoiding busy public places and checking in regularly. Making simple adjustments such as keeping keys in a secure location or installing a curtain to cover a door can help keep the person safe.
- Learn to manage aggression. Proactively monitor for causes of agitation, such as physical discomfort, communication breakdowns, complicated tasks or decisions. Strategies to manage aggression include redirecting, staying calm and sometimes, apologizing.
- Help navigate hallucinations and delusions. It may be scary or frustrating if your loved one is seeing something that is not really there or is fixed on a false belief. However, it’s important to remain calm and reassuring in these situations. Validating a loved ones’ experience and concerns such as helping them find an item they believe is stolen will help them feel understood and heard. Try to avoid arguing. Instead, redirect to a different topic if necessary, and consider looking for environmental factors that can trigger a delusion.
- Avoid inappropriate behaviors. Living with dementia doesn’t mean you lose your desire for companionship and intimacy. However, loved ones may display actions that are not appropriate. These conversations may be uncomfortable but setting clear boundaries and providing space or privacy can be valuable. Consider a verbal response and nonverbal action such as firmly saying, “No, I don’t like that” in addition to putting your hand up to stop the action.
- Care for yourself. Caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s can be stressful and draining. It’s important to prioritize caring for yourself in the process. Seek additional help from family, friends or even a professional caregiver. And make time to take a break and enjoy personal activities.
A person-centered approach to care is critical in providing support. It’s possible to overcome the negative stigma of dementia by acknowledging who a person is and was before their diagnosis. A sponsor of the World Alzheimer’s Report and Alzheimer’s Disease International, Home Instead trains CAREGivers using a one-of-a-kind protocol for Alzheimer’s care and other dementias.
SOURCE Home Instead®
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