Caring for Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Finding out that your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can feel daunting. But staying educated – along with keeping the right attitude – can help.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Here are a few tips to consider about caring for your own loved one:

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Accept Change

Over time, your loved one may need more support. Your relationship with them will change. They may need to adopt a new routine to make their day as easy as possible.

This could include scheduling tasks such as doctor’s appointments earlier in the day when they are more alert. It also may mean allowing your loved one more time to complete tasks and taking frequent breaks throughout the day. Try to stay flexible and relax your expectations.

 

Be Safe

Part of the change includes making adjustments to your loved one’s home to prevent the risk of injury. That’s because Alzheimer’s Disease can impair judgment.

Check the water temperature before your loved one takes a bath. You can also turn down the heat on the hot water heater to avoid burns. In addition, you should install safety mats and bars in the bathtub, or a shower chair.

You may also want to install locks on cabinets containing dangerous chemicals, medicines or tools, and keep matches and lighters out of reach.

 

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Because every person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is different, every person may require a different amount of care. Sometimes, this may mean more care than you can accommodate all on your own.

Arise offers a senior day program to give your loved ones the attention they need– and you the time you need for vital errands. It’s staffed by compassionate, trained professionals and conveniently located in St. Cloud at 2907 Clearwater Road.

 

Arise also offers home care and long-term care. You can have peace of mind knowing your loved one’s needs are met. Visit our website for more information.

 

Nine Common Signs for Recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating and heartbreaking disease to have and to witness. While the symptoms you have and how strong they occur vary, it’s important to identify the following nine signs:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs in Alzheimer’s patients can be seen when a loved one forgets big details of recent conversations or important dates and events. Remember, this symptom can be inconsistent meaning a person can tell a story one day, and confuse major details of the same story the next day.

2. Misplacing items
A person with Alzheimer’s may lose track of items and be unable to retrace their steps to track it down. They may also place items in unusual spots, like placing keys in the fridge or a phone in the dryer. They may try and reason with themselves, thinking that an item was stolen or someone else misplaced it.

3. Difficulty in understanding visual images and spatial relationships
A person showing this symptom may exhibit difficulty judging distances, recognizing patterns, and be unable to properly discern their image from a mirror. Perception of time and length will be difficult to grasp as well. They may judge a timeline of 10 minutes as closer to 3 hours, or think a friend has been gone for weeks when in reality they have only been gone for hours.

4. An inability to plan or solve problems
A person developing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s will have a hard time focusing and concentrating on tasks and problems; tasks may become difficult to accomplish and problems may seem difficult to solve. New problems will be one thing, but familiar tasks like following a favorite recipe or keeping track of bill payments and daily duties will be especially difficult.

5. Mood swings and changes in personality. Possibly due to the other symptoms, frustrations and confusion can arise. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can become suspicious, depressed, anxious, or irritable. Anxiety and a constant fear of being unsettled usually come from confusion, fear, and feeling overwhelmed from trying to make sense of a now unfamiliar world.

6. Poor judgment
Being unable to focus and concentrate as well as having difficulty in perception and memory can lead to poor decision making. Money is usually the first indicator. Examples of this can be giving unusual gifts or overpaying on purchases, tips, and donations. They may be unable to assess what is safe or appropriate or dress improperly for the weather or a special event.

7. Withdrawal from regular life
A person with Alzheimer’s may refrain from regular hobbies, social circles, and organizations. It may seem like they are disinterested in what they previously enjoyed, but having other symptoms on this list may cause them to avoid and become insecure in those hobbies and behaviors.

8. Issues with speech and language
Participation and comprehension in regular conversations will become more difficult. They may struggle with vocabulary and identifying words, names, and people. With time, they may begin speaking gibberish words or experience speech reduction, resulting in a reliance on gestures.

9. Restlessness
This can take place in the form of wandering away from home or doing seemingly unimportant tasks like packing for a non-existent trip or cleaning already clean clothes. They may do these tasks because of memory loss or they may want to accomplish these tasks to regain a sense of purpose.

 

It is important to remember that if a loved one has a few or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean they have the disease. It does mean, however, that you should take your loved one to a doctor or medical specialist trained in evaluating memory disorders at a certified clinic. For more information on the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alz.org.

To help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, Arise has helped organize and will be walking in the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The event will take place on Saturday, September 26 at Lake George Municipal Park. All money raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Association’ mission-related initiatives. For more information on starting and team or fundraising as an individual, visit Walk to End Alzheimer’s.