It’s heartbreaking to watch the decline as your loved one suffers Alzheimer’s or another age-related dementia. To help your loved one maintain personal dignity, you will want to preserve every measure of independence as long as possible.
Try these simple things to make caring for your loved one each day smoother and safer.
- Remove throw rugs to remove the fall hazard.
- Use safety locks and latches to protect your loved one from harming themselves. This is especially important with medicine cabinets. At some point it may also be good to keep sharp tools or kitchen knives under lock and key.
- Make sure your loved one has an ID bracelet or necklace. Include your phone number on the ID. This can help in case they are separated from a caregiver.
- Limit distractions while communicating so that your loved one has an easier time focusing. Turn off the music, radio, and television when you need to have a conversation. Be sure your communication is full of love and gentleness. Stick with simple questions so that they can participate in the conversation.
- Keep a predictable routine. Include both rest and activity in the routine. Rest prevents them from growing tired and frustrated. Activity prevents depression.
- Keep meal times simple without extra things on the table like salt and pepper shakers, unnecessary utensils, etc. Cut things into small bites ahead of time if bigger portions are a problem. An apron or smock can help with neatness.
- Purchase clothing with elastic or Velcro. Solid colors are less confusing and are sure to match no matter what combination is chosen.
- Don’t go it alone. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be stressful, frustrating, and lonely. Enlist the support and help of a homecare organization like CommUnity Care of the Northeast. Receiving homecare gives you the rest you need and gives you a team of people sharing the responsibility of care.
- Join a support group. For the family of those seeing their loved one decline, CommUnity Care offers a Dementia Caregiver’s support group. This support group, led by CommUnity Care’s founder/director of nursing Jean E. Langenbach, RN, BS, is a safe place to meet with others who are facing the same challenges you are facing. In the group, you will learn best practices, discuss challenges, and find a community of people to support and uplift you.