Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease can raise many stressful questions, such as how to keep it as mental and physical as possible while the disease progresses There is no single solution to managing Alzheimer's, but people caring for relatives have many useful tactics for those in this difficult situation. We spoke with several Alzheimer caregivers who found ways to keep their loved ones active and engaged. The following worked for them.
Create opportunities for your loved ones to participate in activities that they have always loved and can still do safely.
Five years ago, Emmy G.'s mother Linda was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease . Linda loves to dance, laugh and draw, so Emmy and other family members try to make sure that Linda does all this often. "We never treated her like a" patient, "and I firmly believe that she does not behave like one five years after the diagnosis," Emmy tells SELF. "My mother has a fabulous personality to this day."
2. Customizing activities that you enjoy but may not be safe to do. Rodney B., husband of Jennifer B., was diagnosed with incipient Alzheimer's disease at the age of 58 in 2017.
"The activities that make Rod the most fun these days are typically things he has done most of his life, such as fishing, golfing and Euchre [the card game]," says Jennifer SELF. "While the disease has progressed, we have made adjustments." For example, Rod is still fishing, but never alone, and he visits a golf clinic for people with neurological conditions who have helped him modify his game because of his physical limitations, Jennifer says.
Overall, Jennifer and Rod talk in three buckets about his abilities: what he can do, what he needs help with and what he needs to do for him. "Our main focus is on the first," she says.
. 3 Ask what exciting goals you want to achieve and help them – or take them with you as they guide you.
Karen W.'s mother, Ethel, lived with her for a year after her development [19459004Alzheimer. "She kept saying," I want to go to Coronado, [California]"says Karen SELF. "She and my father got married there in 1939. So I took her with me!"
The couple made a four-day adventure. "As her disorientation and excitement increased, she was able to join the entire journey," says Karen. The visit also allowed Ethel to connect with her past and share this with Karen. "During the trip, I learned where she lived on Coronado Island before she met my dad, visited the chapel where they met and got married, and found relatives I did not know I had," Karen says , "The journey was a blessing for me."
4. Connect your relative with others who have Alzheimer's.
"I strongly support this: Join your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and join the association's online support community, ALZConnected "Says Jennifer. (The organization also has a 24/7 hotline at 1-800-272-3900.) This allowed Jennifer and Rod to create secure spaces in which anyone could process their Alzheimer's disease. She added, "Best of all, we had people with whom we could laugh about. "
In the last two years, many of these people have become Jennifer and Rod's friends. "This connection has shown us that we are not alone and has given us some of the best and most practical resources to tackle the everyday problems we face," she says.
. 5 Help them to exercise the cognitive abilities that seem most intact.
"We look for opportunities for Rod to use the skills that were not so much affected by the disease," says Jennifer. Rod's communication skills are still outstanding. I suggested writing to him. He has written a short story about his parents' love for each other and has launched a blog about the "sunny side" of what he has experienced since his diagnosis. Rod has also found new goals in life through speaking at Alzheimers intercession and awareness, she explains.
6. Walk together, especially if your loved one has always liked it.
1997 was added Rick L.'s father diagnosed Alzheimer's, and Rick finally wrote The Successful Caregiver's Guide to share information about what he learned during his nursing experience. "Dad has always been an avid wanderer, and me I continued this exercise with him, "Rick tells the SELF." Running has increased his mobility, strength, and flexibility and, I believe, lifted Dad out of the wheelchair. "
Joy J. also took regular walks with her father who showed signs of Alzheimer's in 2009. "Since my dad was prone to hikes, the best way to keep him active was to go for a walk with him," says Joy, author of The Reluctant Caregiver versus SELF. "It got him out of the house, where he was often upset and frustrated. The fresh air, the sights and the sounds seemed to lift him. "
. 7 Experiment until you find methods of engagement that resonate the most.
It may take a few tries to figure out what works for your loved one. "For example, puzzles are on many lists of stimulating activities," says Leslie K., whose husband has Tom Alzheimer, to SELF. But Tom has never been so interested in puzzles.
Nevertheless, he always liked to read. "Frequent visits to the library were an activity that hit several of his hot buttons," says Leslie. "He's social with others [but it] does not require much conversation, the library keeps getting new books, and it's cognitively challenged."
. 8 Read aloud, especially from material related to your past.
Rick's father, a college college professor, read to him and his sisters at bedtime when they were children. When his father developed Alzheimer's Rick read aloud to keep him "mentally conscious". "Dad always appreciated good writing," he says. "I chose the work of some of his favorite authors (such as Mark Twain and Charles Dickens) – whom he had introduced to me many years ago."
. 9 Consider giving them housework that is safe and can make sense.
Leslie says she was joked about housework to give her husband tasks that best fit his abilities. "He now has the task of emptying the dishwasher and folding the laundry," she says. "I've bought more cloth napkins so he's always sorting and folding things." Leslie says she'll spend some time here and there to "figure out which one-step responsibilities he appreciates on his plate knows that are of value to us and are activities that he can feel good about. "
10th Do not try to impose physical or mental activity on your loved one unless you are ready.
Karen says there were days on the trip to California where her mother was active and others when she wanted to stay in bed. "I learned to follow their rhythm," says Karen. "She felt safer that way."
Overall, Karen says that she has learned that sometimes she has tried too hard to preserve her mother's self-mum. For example, there was a time when Karen made sure Ethel's hair and outfit were put together the way they always did. But one of her mother's doctors said Ethel would feel better if she had not done as much as she had done, or clawed as she had in the past. "It was actually easier for both of us," says Karen.