- World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on 21 September
- This day tries to create awareness about this condition
- Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is important
World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on 21 September each year. This day tries to create awareness about the condition and challenges faced. It also seeks to eliminate the stigma that surrounds this condition. People who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s in the family or in a circle of friends know how difficult it is to take care of them. For those who do not know, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also commonly called Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. Slow-onset disease with mild memory loss gradually worsens with degeneration of brain cells. It reaches a stage where a person’s communication and decision-making skills are impaired.
It is not easy to see the physical and functional abilities of the family member in front of us every day. The care seeking process of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes push caregivers into depression. Everyday caregiver brings new challenges to make the experience busy and stressful.
But with the following tips, you can turn a challenging care journey into a rewarding experience.
Tips for taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s
1. Involve the patient
Although people with Alzheimer’s suffer from encephalopathy and cannot perform their routine activities as before, this does not mean that they cannot engage in any activity. Allow the patient to work as safely as possible, without assistance. For example, place your clothes on the dressing table, encourage them to pick clothes of their choice and put on their clothes. If there is some activity that the patient enjoys doing, encourage them to do it often.
2. Ensure that the environment is safe
As the years pass, the problem-solving skills and decision of a person with Alzheimer’s may become impaired. Extra care needs to be taken in keeping potentially dangerous items such as knives, scissors, needles, medicines, alcohol, toxic scavengers, lighters, matchsticks, etc. out of the patient’s reach. In addition, to prevent the patient from falling, keep the room free of clutter, and install handrails and grab bars wherever necessary in the home.
3. Be flexible and offer options
Resistance to suggestions and instructions is common in Alzheimer’s patients. You should not force the patient to dislike something. For example, if the patient is not willing to bathe daily, consider bathing them on alternate days. When you provide options to the patient, they feel more involved in their daily lives. Ask them if they want to take a walk or sit in the park. Before preparing a meal, ask for their suggestions, for example whether they want chapatti or rice. Also make sure that you do not flood him / her with too many options. In most situations it is usually better not to offer more than two options.
4. One Step Communication
Those who have communicated with Alzheimer’s patients know how challenging it is. At the same time, it can be easier if we follow certain steps in continuous communication. Establish eye contact and provide clear one-step communication. This helps them understand the instruction, process it and respond accordingly.
5. Be patient
If there is one quality that needs constant nourishment during the caregiver journey, it is none other than patience. As the disease progresses, the caregiver’s daily work will increase. Tasks that were previously simple for a person with Alzheimer’s can become increasingly difficult. It will also stimulate the caregiver. Therefore, it is better to predict that daily tasks will not only change, but take longer to complete. Being a little more patient can do wonders for taking care of someone who has Alzheimer’s disease.
These above suggestions may seem simple to you at first. But when you start implementing these suggestions, you will realize their importance. It is sure to make a big difference in the long run and help you effectively take care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
(Dr. Visakhadatta Mathur Kumaraswamy, Consultant Neurology, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road)
Disclaimer: This content only provides general information, including advice. It is not a substitute for qualified medical opinion by any means. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.