Seniors living with Alzheimer’s require daily assistance from close friends, partners, and family members. It can be an intensely emotional journey for everyone involved.
There is no cure available for Alzheimer’s yet.
Therefore, it falls upon the patients and their caregivers to manage the symptoms using limited medical treatments.
The purpose of managing Alzheimer’s disease is to enhance the seniors’ quality of life.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5.7 million people live with Alzheimer’s across the United States. The same report by CDC states that about 32% of caregivers spend an average of five years and above caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
In this blog post, we have compiled some strategies that could help both the caregivers as well as the seniors.
The following are five tips or guidelines for managing Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly:
1. Understanding the Disease
The first and arguably, the most crucial step is to learn how Alzheimer’s disease progresses over time. Education fosters reasonable expectations, reduces frustration, and prepares caregivers for any challenges ahead.
For instance, during the early stages, seniors can focus on self-care and independence. However, as the disease progress to advanced stages, it will require 24-hour care.
Managing Alzheimer’s disease during physical and cognitive regression of the patient necessitates proper planning. That includes financial and legal arrangements made after consultation with the patient while they are healthy enough.
2. Preparing the Support Plan
Managing patient’s with Alzheimer disease needs meticulous planning, attention, and skill. Caregivers need to take care of their own welfare while caring for the senior. That means reaching out to volunteer organizations, friends, and family members for help.
Seniors need quality time with the members of their families. By freeing up time for cleaning, shopping, and other mundane tasks by seeking help, it is indeed possible.
Besides, caregivers should keep themselves updated through online training, workshops, and books. Joining support groups can help them deal with feelings of hopelessness, fear, and isolation.
3. Coping with Communication Challenges
Changes in communication are inevitable in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. Confusion, increased hand gestures, trouble articulating, and random outbursts are some communication challenges encountered while managing Alzheimer’s disease.
In such a situation, it’s important to empathize with the seniors instead of becoming frustrated. During the advanced stages, caregivers have to speak slowly since the senior needs to process everything that’s being said at their own pace.
Try fewer and simpler words. Apart from that, caregivers should use body language as much as possible. That includes touch, gestures, eye contact, and smile to attract the senior’s attention.
Managing patients with Alzheimer’s disease requires including them in meaningful conversations that concern them and their health. One should avoid using unfamiliar words or slang.
4. Planning Everyday Routine
For caregiving to run efficiently, having a plan in place to manage the day-to-day activities of the seniors is pivotal. The routine does not have to be rigid at all. It does, however, offer a sense of familiarity, structure, and consistency.
For instance, activities such as bathing, eating, bathing, receiving visitors can have consistent daily times. Even if the senior does not entirely understand the routine, using simple cues such as letting the sunlight in during the daytime and using quiet music when it’s dark could help.
Managing Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly requires involving them in day-to-day activities such as folding clothes, watering plants, etc. However, one should take the patient’s capability into account.
5. Dealing with Behavioral Changes
With changes in communication, behavioral changes may follow. Coping with personality changes and troubling behavior is a crucial challenge faced by caregivers while managing Alzheimer’s disease.
Changes in behavior may include sleeping difficulties, eating difficulties, hallucinations, wandering, and aggressiveness. These changes arise from the senior’s frustration due to the inability to communicate and deal with stress.
Try to understand the patient’s perspective, keep a journal, improve emotional awareness, and count your blessings for dealing with behavioral changes.
To Sum Up
Managing Alzheimer’s disease is certainly not easy. Caregivers and patients have to go through an ocean of emotions.
As difficult as it can be, the tips mentioned above for dealing with Alzheimer’s patients can ease things. That said, never hesitate to seek professional assistance.
Specific conditions, such as depression, fatigue, and chronic stress, may need medical help.
At AdvantagePlusNurses, our team specializes in chronic care management that can aid seniors in attaining a healthy quality of life.