Alzheimer’s disease is a complex progressive brain disorder that is irreversible and that causes a slow deterioration of memory and thinking skills. If you have a family member or someone else in your life who is struggling with this condition, you may be overwhelmed with the task of managing Alzheimer’s care. November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so let’s look at some important statistics about the disease and explore tips on how to care for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Consider the stats
It is not considered a normal part of aging, but it is the most common cause of dementia. It’s likely that Alzheimer’s will impact our lives in some fashion either by facing the disease ourselves or by having a friend or family member experience it.
Let’s look at some important statistics about this disease:
- Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
- Over 5 million people in the United States are living with the condition.
- That figure that is expected to jump to 14 million by the year 2050.
- Over 16 million people in the United States care for someone with Alzheimer’s unpaid.
- That care is valued at over 18 billion hours and $232 billion dollars.
Tip #1: Be patient
When it’s your responsibility to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to remember that it will take her longer to process things than it will take you. Take it slowly with her activities, be patient with her as she processes information and give her time to work things out. This may be frustrating, particularly if you were used to her pre-Alzheimer’s pace, but take a deep breath and practice patience as best as you can.
Tip #2: Ensure safety
As you provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s, recognize the responsibility of ensuring the safety of your loved one at all times. She mustn’t have any opportunity to accidentally hurt herself while moving around the house. Dementia patients struggle with their levels of judgment, so it can be harder for them to keep themselves safe.
To reduce the risk of an accident, make sure to keep walkways clear and well-lit throughout the house and to cover slippery surfaces with a mat for traction. Ensure that stairs, bathrooms and any other tricky areas of the house have handrails to grab onto. Remove any fire hazards and supervise your loved one when using the kitchen or heating system.
Tip #3: Stick to a routine
Having the same routine every day can be an effective tactic to help your loved one remember what’s going on. This will also help her be less likely to feel overwhelmed. In general, the most challenging or overwhelming events should take place early in the day, when she has the most energy.
Use the afternoon and evening for more relaxing activities. There will undoubtedly be times while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s that you need to shift the routine, but keeping things as similar as possible will make it easier and less confusing for your loved one.
Tip #4: Tune in to mood changes
It may take some practice, but learning how your loved one’s moods fluctuate throughout the day can be helpful. Avoid pushing something on her if she feels overwhelmed or tired, as this may only confuse her more.