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Alzheimer & Dementia Care

How to support family members living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

It’s not only the Alzheimer’s patient that suffers significantly from this unfortunate illness but also the family members have to go through a lot of changes in their lifestyle and routine. For an elder in the house to get affected with their ability to think, reason, decide, judge and follow a normal life is stressing for both the patient and the family members. Its requires the family members to show patience, love and most importantly remain positive at all time so that patient doesn’t lose hope or feel isolated. If you have an Alzheimer’s/Dementia patient in the house, keep reading this article to find out how you can support them and help them live normal.

1. Know about Alzheimer’s 

It is important to know what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease and how will it change your family member’s life. As a family member, it is crucial for you to learn about the disease, its symptoms and affects so that you are mentally prepared for what is coming. Time after time, read blogs written by experts, research on the latest developments of scientists so that you can provide your loved ones with the best treatment and care. 

2. Communicate 

One of the key things in making Alzheimer’s patients mentally and physically healthy is open, honest and frequent communication. If you have a patient in the house, make sure you don’t draw a line between yourself and them which makes it difficult for both to talk. During family gatherings, informal breakfast or dinner conversations or special occasions, talk to them about how they feel and also share how you feel with them. Instead of blaming them for the change in the lifestyle, communicate with them how things have changed and together the family will manage this new routine. 

3. Meet and Greet 

Alzheimer’s patients often lose hope and become socially isolated because they feel terribly depressed and worthless at home. If you are unable to live with your Alzheimer’s family member, at least make an effort to meet them often. If you have a busy schedule, you can also call them and greet them every now and then to make them feel like part of your life. 

4. Develop a friendly environment 

Having an Alzheimer’s patient in the house can change the whole environment of the house. The patient may lose control, get aggressive and the family members can get frustrated. Maintaining a healthy and happy culture, in this case, can be a challenge. Try utmost to stay positive and accept things the way they are. Cherish the tiniest moments and ignore petty issues to ensure that there is positivity around. Try to spend a weekend together and watch old movies, read books aloud or visit parks, zoo and museums. 

5. Divide Responsibilities

Having an Alzheimer’s patient in the family can extend your workload. It is wise to make a list of chores that will keep coming in throughout the day, week and month. Add unavoidable responsibilities to your list and then share them with the family members. Assign roles to each family member, including children (age-appropriate) to share accountability. This will help you as a family spend time together, never forget any important task and also have time to spend to socialize with friends. Also as a caregiver, you must remember that you can’t do everything at home so there will be some for which you may require external vendors. 

6. Involve the patient 

Family members often feel that the Alzheimer’s patient in the house is of no use; therefore, they are in some corner of the house. Research says that having Alzheimer’s patient active and engaged in household chores and activities helps lower the progression of this disease. This is aligned with the Cognitive Reserve Theory, which says that as you provide a dementia patient with activities that offer cognitive reserve, their ability to progress with dementia is delayed. Hence, give your patients small tasks such as cleaning, gardening, cooking to keep them busy and involve them in the house. 

7. Finances

Taking care of Alzheimer’s patient may cost you an arm and a leg. From medicines to hospital visits, special diet and customized bed, chairs etc., there will be many things that may require you to alter your monthly and yearly budgeting. You may also be required to start saving or take loans. Sit with your family members and plan out strategies to cover upcoming expenses. You may also want to review your insurance policies.

8. Counselling

Get ready for conflicts within the family members. While you will be all trying hard to maintain a positive culture, there will be times when all family members will stress-out with additional responsibilities and roles. Along with effective communication, you may also require counselling to handle conflicts and deal with the situation with poise. Taking advice from an expert in this regard will further keep you motivated and also give you assurance that it will all be normal.

Conclusion

The impact of Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing for both the patient and its family members. The earlier you embrace it as a part of your life, the quicker your life will get normal. If you show patience, panic less and keep your life balanced, times of stress will be replaced with relief and joy.

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