Helpful Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers
It is often stressful and emotionally straining when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, taking care of your family member or loved one makes a huge difference in their quality of life. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As the disease advances over time, tasks may become more daunting and overwhelming for a caregiver. Don’t worry! You are not alone. Here are 10 tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers!
Establish a Routine
It is essential to establish a daily routine for your loved one as it will bring consistency into their lives. Consider planning out activities that are similar to your family member’s interests. In addition to this, be sure to schedule medical appointments and grooming services when your loved one is alert and refreshed. Some tasks may take longer than others, so be flexible and schedule more time for them.
Create a Safe Environment
Alzheimer’s and dementia impairs problem-solving skills and judgment. To create a safe environment for your loved one, prevent falls by getting rid of rugs and remove any clutter that may cause them to fall. Install locks on cabinet doors that contain potentially dangerous items, such as medicine, cleaning supplies, and utensils. Lastly, take fire safety precautions by keeping matches and lighters out of reach. If the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia smokes, then always supervise them.
Take Frequent Breaks
Your role as an Alzheimer’s caregiver may be the hardest job. Therefore, it is essential to manage your stress by taking frequent short breaks. Don’t wait until you are exhausted and overwhelmed! Ask for assistance from family and friends or even professional hired helpers to look after your loved one during your break. By taking the time out of your day for yourself will ultimately help you recharge.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Stress can cause physical problems and changes in your behavior. So it is crucial to utilize relaxation techniques to help manage your stress and boost your energy levels. Try out relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or even yoga. Use whatever works for you!
Cope with Changes in Behavior
Alzheimer’s disease causes your loved one to develop changes in personality and behavior. This may include getting upset or angry quickly, losing interest in activities, and hiding things. You can not stop these behaviors from happening, but you can learn to cope with them. Try not to show your frustration or anger. Keep things simple by asking or saying one thing at a time. Most importantly, reassure them that he or she is safe and you are there to assist them.
Another thing to do when caring for Alzheimer’s is to provide them with some options. For instance, pick out two outfits for them to choose from. Ask them if they would prefer to go outside or stay inside to watch a movie. You want to involve your loved one with daily tasks and still give them choices.
Improve Communication Skills
It is so important to communicate effectively with your loved one. Be clear and specific when speaking with them. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings! Try to say “I feel angry” rather than “You made me angry.” By saying this, you can show your feelings without blaming your loved one, or causing them to become defensive. Additionally, recognize that they also have the right to express his or her feelings as well. Remember, listening is an essential aspect of communication.
Be Patient and Flexible
Over time, your loved one may become more dependent on you to take care of them. Try to remember to be flexible and adapt your routine as needed. Helping people with Alzheimer’s disease brush their teeth, shave, and put on makeup can help them feel more like themselves. To limit challenges and frustration, take your time when assisting your loved one. For example, if bathing is met with resistance, then consider doing it less often.
Join a Support Group
By joining a support group, you will be able to connect with others who know what you’re going through. In addition to this, you can learn from the experiences of others who have faced the same challenges. A support group helps reduce feelings of isolation, fear, and hopelessness. Remember, you are not alone!
Take Care of Yourself
Lastly and most importantly, take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Plan a day for you to go shopping or have lunch with a friend. Keep up with your hobbies and interests. Treat yourself! You deserve it. By taking care of yourself, you will be able to take care of others.
Your role as a caregiver is challenging but also rewarding. You get to help and make a difference in your loved one’s life! But you must understand that you need to take care of yourself when caring for your family member or loved one! Ask for help and take frequent breaks throughout the day. By following these 10 tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers, we are sure you will see an improvement in your caregiving skills.