Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is no simple task. It’s a job fraught with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Whether you are providing Alzheimer’s care for a loved one or are working in hospice, these five tips are a great place to start.
5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Care
1. Make the Environment Safe
One of the first things you’ll want to do as a caregiver is to make the environment safe. We encourage you to go through the living space and remove hazardous items such as matches and lighters. Lock away medicines, cleaning supplies, knives, alcohol, and any other tools or utensils that could prove problematic.
Go through the environment and remove tripping hazards, such as rugs, extension cords, and other obstacles. Install grab bars in places where the person you are caring for is most likely to have trouble keeping their balance. Place covers on the electrical outlets. Put no-slip material on the stairs and in the shower.
2. Provide Nourishing Food
Another thing you can do for memory care is to offer nutritious food. Many foods can help prevent cognitive changes, including:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Colorful fruits
- Fish and seafood
- Organ meats
- Olive oil
The Alzheimer’s Association provides additional food and eating tips for patients with Alzheimer’s, including using a contrasting colored plate, checking the temperature of the food, and encouraging independence.
3. Minimize Frustrations
It is frustrating for a person to go through memory loss. Over time, they will become less dependent. In order to minimize frustrations, involve the person as much as possible. Provide them with simple bare-bones instructions. Be patient because it may take them longer for them to accomplish tasks than before.
Create a routine and schedule challenging tasks for times of day when the person is at their best. Offer the person choices so they can maintain a sense of agency, for example choosing between two activities or two kinds of food or two outfits.
4. Encourage Physical Activity
Not only will exercise promote cognitive function, but it will also help the person you’re caring for maintain a healthy appetite and healthy sleep patterns. Exercise can help them improve their mood and feel comfortable in their body.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Working as a caregiver is difficult, and burnout is a real possibility. Be proactive and develop a self-care plan for yourself. Try to include some aspect of self-care in each day, whether that means getting together with friends, journaling by candlelight, going kayaking, organizing your closet, or going to a Zumba class. By taking care of yourself well, you’ll be able to continue providing high-quality individualized care to those suffering from memory loss.
There are many ways to care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, but some of the best things to do include making the home environment safe, serving a nutritious diet, encouraging exercise, minimizing frustrations, and taking care of yourself. By implementing these tips, you’ll be well on your way to providing excellent individualized care to those with dementia.