How To Take Care Of A Family Member With Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's is a serious and debilitating disease, one that is hard for both those afflicted and their loved ones. Because it is a psychological disease, it can be difficult to take care of someone who has it, and it can quickly become frustrating for everyone involved. Seeking professional care is a must, but you can make things a little easier by making changes to your daily routine and how you speak to your family member.

Develop Routines

A person with Alzheimer's will need some help with his day-to-day activities. To make things a little easier, you can set up a daily schedule with similar structures every day. Base this schedule on what the person is currently capable of doing, and have him engage in tasks that he can still perform. Take a short walk, make a simple meal together or perform simple household chores. Try to make the activities the same things at the same time so he doesn't feel disoriented.

During this time, communication is important. Even if you don't think he understands you, try to keep him in the know by explaining what you're doing and what your plans are. You can also help him by giving him clues he can use to figure things out for himself. For example, opening windows in the morning and turning down the lights at night can help him understand it's time to wake up or get ready for bed.

Communicate Helpfully

Conversations can be difficult when your loved one has Alzheimer's. When you communicate, speak slowly and clearly and in short sentences. Don't give him too much information to process at a time. If at first he doesn't understand you, try rephrasing what you just said a different way. Say his name often when speaking with him, and introduce yourself if there appears to be any doubt.

Keep his attention with hand gestures, facial expressions and body language, and keep friendly eye contact. Frequent smiles can help him feel comfortable.

Avoid asking him to try to remember things or point out how you just said something. When giving directions, avoid being vague. For example, instead of saying "sit over there," say "sit in the green chair."

Seek Professional Help

Look for elder home care services in your area. It is an additional cost, but if you have a job and family to worry about, even temporary care can help you day to day. Home care services often specialize in treating those with Alzheimer's, and are sometimes available at all hours of the day. You can try to find someone available for a few hours every day while you're at work, or even overnight care if you can't be with your family member at all hours of the day. A home care service is often preferable to looking for a retirement home, even one that specializes in care for the disabled; letting your family member stay at home can help them feel much more comfortable and cheerful.