Caring for a Loved One Suffering from Alzheimer’s
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people suffering from dementia worldwide currently stands at about 35.6 million and the cost of treating and providing care for them exceeds $604 billion annually. In the US, figures published by the Alzheimer’s Association show that more than five million people have the disease. Unfortunately, caring for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia can be challenging. Read on to learn how to deal with, talk, and care for someone living with these diseases.
Consistency is vital for your loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other mential disorder. Therefore, make sure the patient’s daily activities such as waking up, taking meals, taking drugs, bathing, exercising, or receiving visitors take place more or less at the same time. The benefit of taking this approach is it helps the patient to keep track of daily events. In addition, do not rush the patient to accomplish daily activities or tasks. Instead, allow the patient to take short breaks during tasks, especially for difficult tasks.
People living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease tend to forget words, places, close family members and friends and as a result, they may often use either hand gestures or inappropriate outbursts to try to communicate. When this happens, you should pay close attention to your own body language and make eye contact with the patient. Most importantly, you must remain calm and resist the urge to get angry, irritated, frustrated, or tense. Instead, be attentive, identify yourself, speak naturally, and keep your communication simple. If you are in a room where the radio or TV is on, reduce the volume and rephrase rather than repeat what you have just said.
Unpredictable behavior is quite common in people suffering from Alzheimer’s. For example, a patient might become irritable and anxious when in the presence of “strangers.” Another common and unpredictable behavior is suffering delusions. For example, a patient might develop strong beliefs that some people are plotting to kill him/her. As a result, the patient may withdraw and refuse to interact with other people in a social setting.To deal with such behavior, try to minimize changes in the patient’s surroundings and environment. Reassure and gently remind your loved one that friends and other family members mean well.
Nutrition and Exercise
It is important for someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. On the exercise front, choose activities that your loved one really enjoys. On the nutrition front, limit foods with high sodium or sugar levels. The same is true for foods with high cholesterol and saturated fat levels. Finally, make sure your loved one takes plenty of fluids.
You should not view caring for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as a burden. Of course, you can make the task more pleasant by being patient and attentive with the patient. Additionally, provide your loved one with a healthy diet devoid of either salty or sugary foods. Finally, exercise is important not only to keep the patient in good shape but also healthy.
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