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Alzheimer's: dealing with daily challenges



People who have Alzheimer's disease often need help in coping with everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and bathing. If your loved ones need this kind of care, balance the loss of privacy and independence with gentleness and tact.

Baden

Bathing can be a confusing experience for a person with Alzheimer's disease. A routine can help. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Get comfortable. Make sure that the bathroom is warm and well lit. Keep towels handy. Play soft music if this seems to help promote relaxation.
  • Maintain privacy. If your loved one is aware of being naked, put a towel over your shoulders or lap. Use a sponge or washcloth to clean the cloth. Ask him or her to help as much as possible.
  • Help your loved one to be in control. Explain each step of the bath as you go.
  • Alternative showers or showers and sponge baths. A full bath or a shower twice or three times a week is probably sufficient. Between full baths or showers, sponges bathe the face, hands, feet, armpits and genitals of your loved one. It may also be easier to wash the person's hair in the sink than in the shower or bath.
  • Never leave a confused or frail person alone while bathing. Have your supplies ready.

Dressing

19659015] The physical and mental disability of Alzheimer's can make dressing a frustrating experience. Here are some pointers that help the relative maintain his or her appearance:

  • Indicate direction. Lay out the garments in the order in which they are to be put on, or give the garments one at a time for simple dressing instructions.
  • Limit the selection. Put some clothes in another room. Too many decisions can make decision-making difficult.
  • Consider the likes and dislikes of your loved one. Do not consider whether your loved one does not want to wear a particular garment or repeatedly chooses the same garment. Consider buying a few pairs of the same outfit instead.
  • Make it easy. You can replace shoelaces, buttons and buckles with fabric tape or large zippers.

Food

A person who might not remember Alzheimer's when he last ate – or why it's important to eat. To mitigate the challenges of eating:

  • Eat regularly. Do not rely on relatives to ask for food. They may not respond to hunger or thirst.
  • Use white dishes. Simple white dishes can make it easier for your relative to distinguish food from the plate. Similarly, use square mats with a contrasting color so your family members can distinguish the plate from the table. However, stick to monochrome colors. Patterned plates, bowls and linens can be confusing.
  • Offer food 1 at a time. If your loved ones are overrun with a whole plate of food, put only one type of food on your plate at a time. You could also offer several small meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones.
  • Cut food into bite-sized portions. Fingerfoods are even easier – but avoid foods that are difficult to chew and swallow, such as nuts, popcorn, and raw carrots.
  • Limit the distractions. Turn off the TV, radio and telephone bell. Put your phone on vibration. You could also clean the table of unnecessary items.
  • Eat together. Make your meals a pleasant social event for your loved one to look forward to the experience. If necessary, provide snacks to ensure his diet.

Toileting

Problems with incontinence frequently occur in the course of Alzheimer's disease. To help your loved one maintain a sense of dignity despite the loss of control:

  • Make the bath easy to find. Write a sign on the bathroom door labeled "Toilet" or a picture of a toilet. Use night lights at night to help relatives find their way to the bathroom.
  • Watch for signs. Restlessness or pulling on clothes could mean requesting the toilet. Be aware that your loved one can use a trigger phrase or words that have nothing to do with going to the bathroom.
  • Do not wait to ask if your sweetheart asks you. Consider bringing your loved one to the bathroom on a regular basis, whether he must go or not.
  • Clothing is easy to remove. Replace zips and buttons with fabric fasteners. Choose a pair of pants with elastic waist.
  • Accidents are underway. Praise the success of toilets and offer safety when accidents happen.

Patience is the key and compassionate. If a particular approach does not work, do not be discouraged. Instead, try something new or contact groups to support ideas. With the progression of Alzheimer's disease, your understanding, flexibility and creativity will be invaluable.

Updated: 2015-02-28

Release date: 2002-12-05


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