When providing care for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to remember that your role and responsibilities will increase as the disease progresses. While social media groups and internet discussion boards often provide all sorts of caregiving information that is NOT scientifically or medically proven, resources such as the Mayo Clinic are trustworthy and responsible. The following are a few of their recommended best practices for managing daily living tasks for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Six Tips to Reduce Frustration
Both caregivers and the person receiving care can quickly become frustrated as completing daily living tasks becomes more challenging. Here are some tips on how to keep the situation calm for everyone.
1. Stick to a daily routine but allow for some flexibility when it’s needed.
2. Allocate extra time for everything. Build break times into all tasks.
3. Find safe activities that the person with Alzheimers and/or Dementia can do with minimal assistance to provide them a sense of freedom. Let the person with Alzheimer’s do as much as possible with minimal assistance.
4. Offer choices, but limit to only a few. For example, “Would you like to wear a blue or yellow shirt?” “Should we go for a walk or do a craft project?”
5. Limit napping as it will reduce the risk of being awake all night.
6. Reduce distractions during mealtimes to make it easier for the person to focus on their food and conversations at the table.
Focus on Creating a Safe Environment
As dementia progresses, judgment and problem-solving abilities will become impaired, and their risk of injury will increase. Make sure the home environment is set up appropriately.
- Avoid items that could cause a fall, such as scatter rugs, books, or clutter on the floor or extension cords.
- Use locks to prevent access to anything potentially dangerous such as firearms, matches and lighters, alcohol, medications, cleaners, and power tools.
- Set the hot-water heater to a lower temperature to prevent burns.
- Always ensure a fire extinguisher is nearby, and smoke detectors have good batteries or are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system.
In addition to the Mayo Clinic, the United States Department of Health and Human Services also provides accurate, best-practice advice for Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
Caregiving Tips for People in the Early Stages of Dementia
It may be upsetting for a person newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to need help with personal tasks and activities. Here are a few tips for caregivers:
- Assist in writing down to-do lists to keep each day organized.
- Schedule daily activities that are enjoyable, such as walking, light yoga or stretching, crafts or artwork, or spending time with pets.
- Set up reminders for daily medications.
- Buy comfortable clothes with elastic waistbands, Velcro fasteners, or oversized zippers.
- Install a sturdy shower chair to help the person bathe and grab bars to assist with toileting.
- Always be gentle and show respect. Communicate every step of every activity, so the person is aware of what is happening. Remember, the person with Alzheimer’s will have difficulty remembering things and can quickly become anxious and angry. Therefore, always strive to reassure the person, stay calm, and show that you understand their concerns and fear.
- Make sure the elderly person completes necessary activities, including walking/exercising, eating, sleeping, and maintaining a safe, calm, & supportive environment. They may forget or not want to take care of themselves, and boundaries must be clearly drawn and repeated.
Millions of people in the US care for a family member with Alzheimer’s, and many more look to home care services providers to provide additional support. However, regardless of whether you are keeping caregiving within the family, have found a trusted home-care aide or a specialty Alzheimer’s care facility, knowing the best strategies for care can help you enjoy your time together.