If you are caring for someone living with Alzheimer's disease, you know that as the disease progresses your loved one's ability to manage daily tasks will decline. Consider practical tips to help him or her maintain a sense of independence and dignity as he or she becomes dependent on you and other family members or caregivers.
A person with Alzheimer's disease might become agitated when once-simple tasks become difficult. To limit challenges and ease frustration:
Schedule wisely. Establish a routine to make each day less agitating and confusing. People with Alzheimer's disease can still learn and follow routines. Often it is best to schedule tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, when the person is most alert and refreshed. Allow some flexibility within the routine for spontaneous activities.
Take your time. Expect things to take longer than they used to. Allow the person with Alzheimer's disease to have frequent breaks. Schedule more time for tasks so that you don't need to hurry him or her.
Involve the person. Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, people with Alzheimer's disease might be able to set the table with the help of visual cues or dress independently if you lay out clothes in the order they go on.
Provide choices. Fewer options are better but give the person with Alzheimer's disease choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask if he or she prefers a hot or cold beverage, or ask if he or she would rather go for a walk or see a movie.
Provide simple instructions. People with Alzheimer's disease best understand clear, one-step communication.
Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV and minimize other distractions at mealtime and during conversations to make it easier for the person with Alzheimer's disease to focus.
Over time, a person living with dementia will become more dependent. But there's a lot you can do to maximize the quality of your interactions and reduce frustration. Try to stay flexible and adapt your routine and expectations as needed.
For example, if your loved one starts insisting on wearing the same outfit every day, consider buying a few identical outfits. If bathing is met with resistance, consider doing it less often. Relaxing your expectations can go a long way toward self-care and well-being.