Caring for someone with either dementia or Alzheimer’s isn’t easy. In fact, it can be hard to see a loved one degenerate before your eyes, especially when their memory begins to fade away, and they start to forget what was once so familiar to them. Everyone needs to pull together to ensure this person is kept safe from harm and has the support they need. This isn’t always easy when you have to go to work because the bills still need to be paid, and food needs to be put on the table.
It can feel as if you’re being pulled in all manner of directions. It’s important to remember that you need support, too, especially when your loved one’s condition worsens. This article looks at how to care for someone with either dementia or Alzheimer’s. To begin with, we briefly look at the difference between the two, which often get confused.
Dementia or Alzheimer’s?
Many people use these terms interchangeably, when in fact, there is a distinct difference. Dementia is the umbrella term given when someone experiences a decline in their mental ability that’s severe enough to interfere with daily life. This could mean degeneration in memory, movement, or communication, for instance.
Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, whereas dementia isn’t because it’s a general term. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which gets worse over time. It can affect memory, language, and thought, amongst other things.
There are different stages of both dementia and Alzheimer’s, and these require different types of care. Be sure to seek expert medical advice so that you can ensure your loved one is looked after in the best way possible.
How to Care for Someone with Either Dementia or Alzheimer’s
There are different ways to care for someone with either condition, and the type of care you provide will very much depend on your loved one, including their wants and needs. On top of this, you’ll also have to consider your finances, especially if you’re considering different options. Nevertheless, here are some different solutions for you to think about.
Perhaps one of the safest options, and a place where your loved one will be with other people at the same stage of life. This means they’ll be able to make friends with people of a similar ilk and more than likely enjoy similar activities. For someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, living in a senior community that’s catered to their condition can make the difference between living in as much peace as possible because of an understanding of what they’re going through and being distressed because of a lack of care. Communities such as Thrive at Beachwalk community have staff that is knowledgeable in looking after individuals with memory impairment. This means that your loved ones will be understood and will have their needs met, which in turn means peace of mind for you. There are also plenty of activities to keep them occupied, with some places even having their own movie theater, so there’ll always be something to do.
Another option for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is to have a live-in caregiver with expertise in looking after someone with this condition. The added advantage is that your loved one is near to you and that they have someone dedicated to looking after them. However, they may not receive the same level of interaction as they would in a senior community. If they’re unable to leave their home, then they will pretty much be at the mercy of the live-in caregiver, which is no bad thing.
Perhaps one way to determine this is to ask your loved one whilst they’re still capable of making decisions about where they see themselves in their twilight years. Do they see themselves with like-minded people, living in the same community, or do they want to stay nearby to family and friends? Neither is a bad choice, and it really does depend on many variables, such as their health, finances, and how this will affect you and their other loved ones.
Looking After a Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Yourself
Patience and flexibility are key to looking after someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Caregiving is a huge responsibility, and you’ll also need to be in relatively good health yourself in order to take this on. The first thing you’ll need to do is establish a daily routine and involve them with this. Allow them to take their time and recognize when they’ll need breaks.
It’s important to give them a few choices without them feeling overwhelmed or too confused to make a decision. Provide simple instructions for them to follow, and reduce distractions whenever they’re doing something to limit distress. Another important thing to do is limit daytime napping so they don’t become confused with day and night.
You’ll notice your loved one becoming more dependent as their disease progresses. When this happens, it’s important to remain patient, gentle, and flexible. It’ll be as overwhelming to them as it will be to you. Consider their safety, perhaps installing rails and limiting anything that could cause them to trip or fall, like rugs or mats.
Check the water temperature on your thermostat to avoid scalds, and take relevant fire precautions, such as hiding matches and lighters and have an extinguisher. Also, consider having cupboards where anything hazardous is kept under lock and key, as well as ensuring any exit doors don’t have locks that can be undone to open them.
Making any decision concerning the health or long-term care of a loved one isn’t easy. If they’re resistant to change or want to do something you can’t support, for whatever reason, it can make a simple decision, like looking after them, more difficult than you envisage. Try to seek advice from medical professionals and those who are impartial, just to see if there’s a different option you may have overlooked that could work for both you and your loved one.
At the end of the day, this may be one of the most difficult decisions you make in respect of long-term care. However, you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that you’re doing what’s best for your loved one and all concerned. Their safety and care are your priority, and anyone whom you get to care for them should feel the same way.
Featured Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash