If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, then you know how hard basic day-to-day functioning can be for them—and for you. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be a full-time job, but there are a few tips that can help you care for your loved one with dignity, patience, love and a healthy frame of mind.
Don’t Be Ashamed to Get Professional Help
You don’t have to become the sole full-time caretaker for your loved one. Look into long-term care (LTC) for assistance. Start by reading reviews so you can be sure you’re getting coverage that’s comprehensive and affordable enough to suit your needs. Insurance can make the difference between being able to afford professional assistance and having no choice but to rely on friends and family.
Even if you still play an active role in caring for your loved one, you need time off—to work, to run errands, to enjoy the company of other friends and family or just to rest. Long-term care can involve hiring multiple professionals to care for your loved one in shifts when you’re away; it can also involve moving your loved one into a full-time care facility.
Turn to Friends and Family
You may be able to rely on friends and family to help with your loved one when your professional aides aren’t available. When someone you trust hears of your situation and says they’d like to help, take them up on it. Ways friends and family can help include:
- Cooking a meal for you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s and bringing it over to share
- Running errands for you so you can watch your loved one
- Doing odd jobs and chores around the house
Accept Them as They Are
It can be incredibly frustrating to realize the person you knew for years is locked away inside the person you know now and will never fully surface again. Still, acting out on that frustration can make things more stressful. Here are some ways you can accept your loved one as they are, for your own well-being and your loved one’s:
- Do your best not to be offended by your loved one’s hurtful or forgetful comments. Vent to a trusted friend or family member or a professional health counselor when your loved one is not around to work through your feelings. Take breaks from your loved one if it gets too tense.
- Don’t correct your loved one’s mistaken facts. They won’t be able to process the information, and seeing you upset will just make them more scared. Let them talk about what makes them happy, even if they’re not accurate versions of the events. For example, if they remember fondly having been in a completely different career than they were, just let it go. If the mistaken fact is making them angry at you—for example, they accuse you of doing something you haven’t done—take a step back and remove yourself from the situation until they calm down.
- Don’t curtly tell them “no” when they ask for something odd. If your loved one wants to go skiing in the summer, tell them it sounds like a wonderful idea, but you would love to do something else first—like make lunch together—and wonder if they would help. Directing their focus to another task may make them forget they wanted something that’s not possible.
- Don’t force the issue of their forgotten memories. Asking them if they remember an event or person puts additional stress on them, especially if they see your frustration if they don’t clearly remember. Instead, tell them what they’ve forgotten in a jovial manner. Show them pictures and tell them about people and events that will make them happy. Don’t argue with them if they don’t believe you; drop the topic before they become too upset.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Author Bio: Harry Jorgensen is a contributing writer and registered geriatric nurse. He recommends to his patients’ families to begin their long-term care insurance research through LTC Insurance Reviews.