There are many unique challenges to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. It can be difficult for anyone to understand.
There are about 16 million caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s. While there are unique challenges and stories, there are common issues that come with the disease.
Read on to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and find out the top things you need to know as a caregiver.
What Exactly is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. Dementia is essentially brain disease or trauma. About seventy-percent of dementia patients have Alzheimer’s Disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can often be overlooked and dismissed as normal memory loss that happens as we age.
There are several distinct differences between memory loss and Alzheimer’s. For example, your loved one might be forgetful occasionally, but they’re still social and active.
Someone living with Alzheimer’s suffers memory loss, but it’s also accompanied by isolation. They may have more serious mood swings and can become disoriented.
Nutrition is Critical
Nutrition is a critical component to healthy living no matter what your age is.
It’s normal for appetites to decline as we age. For Alzheimer’s patients, there are different, and more serious challenges when it comes to nutrition.
They may not remember food. They may have other issues that impact their eating that you’re not aware of. For example, they may be unable to tell you that they have pain when they eat due to tooth or denture issues.
There are a few tricks you can use to try to stimulate interest in food. You can try brightly colored plates, using finger foods, and eating smaller meals on a set schedule. These are all ways to help stimulate appetite.
Meltdowns Do Happen
As Alzheimer’s progresses, it will be harder for your loved one to communicate. It can be simple things, like turn down the volume or the food is too cold. Since they can’t express what’s going on, they may have a meltdown and lash out in anger.
They may experience lack of sleep, or pain and discomfort, or they may be out of sync with their routine. You can help limit these issues by keeping your loved one in a regular routine and keeping them as comfortable as possible.
Bring Other Family Members In
This may be a shock to you, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can bring other family members into the fold to help share the responsibility of caring for your loved one.
You can reach out to them for help and support or to give you a break. There’s a good chance that they want to help you. If you don’t ask, they’ll assume that you don’t need the help and you have everything under control or that you don’t want their help.
Take Care of Yourself
Burnout is one of the biggest challenges for people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. You need to make sure that you’re getting the care that you need.
Giving yourself the ability to step away from caregiving and meet a friend for coffee may seem like a luxury in your situation. The reality is that it’s a necessity.
Be sure to get help and ask someone else to be a caregiver for a spell so you can get those breaks for yourself.
Check Your Communication Skills
You have to remember that the person you’re caring for is going through a lot of changes. They may or may not understand what’s going on and feel a lot of fear.
They are fearful, vulnerable and need to feel safe and loved. Your biggest job as a caregiver isn’t to take them to the doctor, it’s to make them feel safe and secure.
That will come across in how you speak to them. Your tone, your body language, and what you say all come into play in how your communication is being interpreted.
Find Activities for Your Loved One
People with Alzheimer’s frequently experience isolation. It’s crucial for them to get out of the house and be active.
You can get them involved in the process and together pick activities that you both enjoy. 8. Know Your Own Personal Limits
If you don’t ask for help and you take everything on yourself, you will burn out. You’ll need to know what that point is.
You know that you can’t do everything, even though you may try. You need to know when you need help, and you need to ask for it. That may be the time to consider moving your loved one to a skilled nursing facility that’s equipped to handle the challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Ask the Tough Questions
When you’re the primary caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s you will be responsible for a lot. You have to have
There will be a lot of questions about your loved one’s estate and affairs. You will have to ask difficult questions. You’ll also have to plan for unforeseen events. Who will have power of attorney? Will there be a living will? What about care options and what does your loved one want?
You’ll need to be prepared to have these questions answered. It all doesn’t have to happen right away, but it will need to happen.
Caregivers have the toughest job. It can be emotionally taxing, and it feels like all of the responsibility falls on your shoulders.
While you can handle a lot, you have to be sure that you give yourself space to care for yourself. You can’t do a lot for your loved one if you’re burned out.
Take the time to reach out and get a support system. Join a caregiver’s group to start. It can be online or offline. Having interactions with people who understand your situation and having social time for yourself can improve your mood, too.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Doesn’t Have to Be Isolating
It can be hard to see someone you love be slowly taken away by Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is taxing and isolating. You don’t have to do it alone.
At Arbors of Ohio, they have developed a community of people ready to help you make sure your loved one gets the best care as possible. That also includes you the caregiver.
Contact them today to schedule a tour of our facilities or to speak with an admissions officer about what makes Arbors the choice for so many families throughout Ohio.