If a friend or family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it may be challenging to find information about caring for that person. What can be done to help someone deal with this debilitating disease?
Step 1: Prevention is Key
While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there are preventative methods you can take to reduce the risk of contracting the disease and forestall its progression. In particular, it’s important to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A person should manage any other diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In addition, it’s important to schedule regular checkups with a physician. The better a person takes care of themselves, the longer Alzheimer’s can be held off.
Step 2: Create a Safe Home Environment
As patients progress from early to middle stage Alzheimer’s, it can become difficult taking care of themselves. To help middle staged Alzheimer’s patients continue functioning in their home environment, many daily tasks can be automated or monitored.
Establish a reminder system for simple daily tasks, either electronically on a phone, tablet, or a whiteboard. Checking in on a daily basis is also important, just to make sure that everything is going as planned. Middle staged Alzheimer’s patients can also benefit from some sort of alert system in case of falls and other emergencies.
Step 3: Keep Your Mind and Body Active
One way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and slow its progression is to stay active mentally, physically, and socially. This is especially important in the early and middle stages of the disease. Working those mental muscles keeps the mind active. Reading is good, as is playing or listening to music. It’s also helpful to play word, trivia, and other challenging brain games. It’s equally important to stay socially active, by participating in group activities or just enjoying good times with friends.
Stay physically active by engaging in a regular exercise routine. Keeping physically fit is good for both the body and the mind, as is maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. Manage stress, maintain a healthy weight, keep blood pressure and cholesterol down, and eat a healthy diet.
A qualified caregiver can help with any and all of these activities. This is especially important in the middle stage of the disease when it becomes more difficult to manage and perform common tasks.
Step 4: Understand the Disease
It’s important that anyone caring for someone with Alzheimer’s understand the disease and its symptoms. Knowing what to expect can help better identify the onset of the disease and plan for the future. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the symptoms are mild and often easy to dismiss.
Middle and late-stage symptoms are more noticeable and require more involved assistance. When new symptoms develop, consult with a physician to figure out the next steps.
Step 5: Focusing on Individualized Care
Alzheimer’s progresses differently in each individual. Every person’s symptoms are different and require an individualized care program. Strategize with a loved one’s physician and caregivers to determine what level of care is necessary, and how best to provide it.
How In-Home Caregivers Can Help
As Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen, additional care is necessary to help that person function to the best of their abilities. To that end, it’s important to engage the services of a qualified in-home caregiver. Caregivers can help Alzheimer’s patients with all their day-to-day activities, and to experience the best possible quality of life.