In 2016, about 5.7 million adults in America were affected by Alzheimer’s disease. But Alzheimer’s and other dementias don’t just affect the person with the disease—it will also affect the people around them. Triple the number mentioned earlier. You will get a rough idea of how many family members and unpaid caregivers provide care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The early stage of Alzheimer’s might go on for years. During its early stages, your loved ones may still function without assistance. However, minor symptoms might arise, such as memory lapses or forgetting words, places, persons, or things. They can still do basic chores and activities in their day-to-day lives. But in the next stages, they will rely on you more.
Your primary role as a care partner is to become a reliable support system and companion for an individual with Alzheimer’s throughout the different stages. Going into the unfamiliar role of being a care partner may confuse you about what to do and handle this responsibility. Taking care of someone dealing with dementia can be overwhelming. It takes resilience and patience as you deal with increased emotional distress. Thus, it is essential to consider these tips and tricks for a more effective and efficient way of looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Understand and learn about the disease
As a person’s Alzheimer’s disease advances, the symptoms they will experience will worsen. With that in mind, it would help if you understand the stages and symptoms that come with the disease. For the early or mild stage, your loved ones may not need a lot of assistance since they can still normally function every day except for minor lapses in their memory.
During this time, it is crucial to plan. While your family member can still decide, it is best to decide on legal, financial, and long-term care planning together. For example, it might be good to talk about and consider getting assistance from a residential care home in the future if you are no longer capable of caring for your loved one on your own.
Learn about the available treatments from which you can benefit. Know when and where to participate in clinical trials, and find support services or local resources that can be advantageous for you and your loved one who has dementia. Since the early stages will allow the patient’s independence, get acquainted with your tasks and duties that you will need to accomplish. These include monitoring a day-to-day schedule or figuring out a budget for your household. Knowing the balance, you need to help your loved one with dementia familiarise with the most suitable coping strategies.
Formulate and plan your routine
Creating a routine that your loved ones can become comfortable and familiar with can help with their circumstance in the early stages. Having a consistent day-to-day schedule can promote a sense of stability and familiarity as the disease progresses. Avoid tasks that may be stressful for them and organise a schedule that can cater to their preferences. Make sure to avoid creating extensive alterations to the routine to prevent your family member’s confusion and frustration. In times of necessary and inevitable changes, make sure to gradually implement the adjustments and give your loved one with Alzheimer’s ample time to adapt and get comfortable with it.
Care partners can also consider planning activities and outings during the day when your family member is at their most energetic and preferable state. This will vary from person to person. That is why you have to monitor their energy levels and make sure they don’t get too tired before the outing or activity ends. Talk it over and work together to figure out what tasks and activities they prefer to incorporate into their daily routines.
Plan ahead for the next stages
To wrap up, it is always a good idea to plan and figure out what you can do further to provide your support and care in the long run. The early stages of Alzheimer’s will eventually end in the next few years. You will encounter a different stage with different demands and factors that you need to consider.
One way to do this is to prepare your environment and identify the potential hazards they may encounter. As early now, you can successfully set up a solution that might take time to finish. Examples of these are renovations you need to do at home or adding convenient gadgets that can further enhance your loved one’s living situation.
Finally, start as early as possible to keep records of important documents and facts you will need in the long run. This includes your family member’s medical history, finances, and other legal documents.