Hearing that someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be devastating. It is not only tough for the person going through it, it is also tough for the entire family. Over 16 million people in the U.S. care for someone that has Alzheimer’s. Watching someone you love slowly forget who you are and the details of their life is challenging and overwhelming. It will bring on feelings of frustration, and depression. Learning about the disease, and strategies to cope with it can make the process a little easier. It can also help you prepare for the future of what is to come before the disease worsens.
Educate Yourself About The Disease
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. with 1 in 3 seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Learning as much as you can about the disease and how it progresses can help you understand how to deal with it and cope. Understanding what the disease entails will help you empathize with your loved one and provide you with the knowledge to help slow it down, and treatment options.
Create Realistic Expectations
People with Alzheimer’s do not get better unfortunately, symptoms progress and worsen. Information you provide your loved one with Alzheimer’s will be forgotten, so it is important not to set unrealistic expectations for them. You should learn to expect the unexpected, and take it one day at a time.
When a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, it can be really frustrating to constantly remind them of something. It hurts that they are losing memories and recognition of who you are, but it is important to be more gentle with them. Using validation instead of frustration and anger. It will only frustrate them, which will make it even harder for them to remember anything.
Remind Your Loved One
There will be many times, especially after the disease progresses, that your loved one will forget your name and things. Simply remind them who you are, and show them pictures and videos of family and friends. This can help trigger their memory, and if not, then it will be nice for them to hear the stories of the people who love them.
Create a daily routine and schedule for your loved one do they can have some sort of structure in their life. It is important to have set schedules for them to help get rid of as much confusion and frustration as possible. Allow your loved one to do as many things as possible by themselves if they can. It helps them restore some confidence.
There is not point in trying to change your loved one to the person they were before the disease. Learn to grieve the loss, and accept who they are now and that the only thing you can change is your attitude towards it. Your relationship with your loved one will constantly change over time.
Good Nutrition Can Help
Research has linked Alzheimer’s to nutrition. Limit refined sugars and increase vegetable intake to help manage the disease. Leafy green vegetables has been linked to improved cognitive performance.
Prepare Wills & Finances
Make sure the loved one’s living will and finances are all prepared and completed. This will help alleviate any stress or issues that may come along as the disease worsens, leading to medical bills such as hospice.
Take Care Of Yourself
Do not burn yourself out, and remember to take care of yourself. Being a caretaker for a loved one with Alzheimer’s gets to be very time consuming. You focus all your time and energy on them and forget to take time for yourself. Take some time for yourself throughout the day. You can join a support group and talk with others who are going through
the same feelings as you of loss, sadness, and even resentment.
Involve The Family More
Taking care of your loved one alone is really stressful. You can rely on your family for help when needed, and ask your family for more support. If you feel like you need to take a break, lean on your family members, and ask them to help you when you need it. It is a lot of work emotionally and mentally helping someone that has Alzheimer’s. Create a care plan with your family so they can help pick up the slack in some areas such as cleaning.
Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or even going through the whole process is draining and releases a flush of emotions. The first and foremost thing is to remember that there is nothing you can do or change, but your attitude towards the situation. Remain as calm as possible around your loved one and remind them of the good times. They may not remember memories over time, but one thing they can still remember is emotions and can sense yours. Be more patient and grieve the loss of who they were, but you can create new memories with them and have fun together. Take advantage of the time you have together, and ask for help and a break when needed.