According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.7 million Americans are currently suffering from the disease. Some have estimated that the real figure places Alzheimer’s third on the list, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.
A full understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease has evolved over the years. It is becoming more apparent that this debilitating disease takes a toll not only on the patient but also on the caregivers who are tasked with providing for those afflicted with the condition.
What To Expect of Alzheimer’s Disease?
There is never any way to be 100% prepared for what you will be faced with when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease as it often affects patients differently. It is important to realize that you may become frustrated with the behaviors of people with Alzheimer’s. Do as much research as possible about the condition to learn more about what to possibly expect.
One thing you don’t want to do is become locked into the idea that you can’t talk about this condition with your loved one. You should speak in simple, short sentences in a clear and calm tone. Also, don’t speak as though the person with Alzheimer’s is not present in the room. This will help alleviate the frustration and tension that is likely to form over time.
When you are speaking to the patient, use his or her name directly to get their attention and give them plenty of time to respond as the disease may diminish their response time. Don’t interrupt them, but if they are struggling to find the right word or phrase it is certainly okay to aid them on by gently prompting them.
One thing that can certainly help with care for your loved one is to establish an easy schedule. A routine will help ease struggles with things such as dressing, grooming, and eating. Allow your loved one to do as much as they can physically handle. If you try to do too much for them it can lead to a feeling of helpless. If you do have to help them physically with dressing or eating, be sure to explain each step to them so that they do not become confused.
The same is true if you have to bathe your loved one. When bathing, be sure to find a time of day when your loved one is at his or her calmest. Making this a routine will help you to figure out when it is easiest to deal with what can be a stressful situation.
One final possibility is to seek out a sensitive, professional organization that can provide a home health caregiver. This is a chance to get some assistance and take over some of your responsibilities so that you are less likely to be overwhelmed. Organizations such as GoldLeaf Care work under the premise that the best healthcare options are those that allow the patient to be treated in his or her home.
Ultimately, one of the worst things you can do as a caregiver is assuming that you are in this by yourself and cannot count on anyone else. By creating a support system, routines, and educating yourself, you have the chance to prevent some of the negative issues associated with caring for your loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease.