More than 30 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older, and at least 15 million of those are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Living with someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be emotionally draining and completely exhausting. Caring for them can often feel like an unending series of heartbreaking experiences as you watch their memories disappear and basic skills fade away. And the disease is progressive, which means that your challenges will only become more severe. In order to cope with living with someone who has been diagnosed with this devastating disease, here are a few things you can do.
- Keep things simple. Realize that someone with Alzheimer’s may struggle with following multiple steps or keeping up with a lengthy conversation. Asking just one thing at a time and waiting for a response, or giving only one direction and giving them time for that step to be completed can make things less frustrating – for both of you.
- Stick to a routine. Having a daily routine helps your loved one to know when certain things will happen and makes it easier for them to remember what comes next. It will also help you to manage your time so that you can take care of them as well as yourself.
- Make sure they feel safe and heard. People with Alzheimer’s are more aware of their feelings than of their words or actions. This means that if you focus on how they feel instead of what they do or say, they will feel more positive – and you will be less likely to get frustrated or upset with them.
- Don’t argue. Because someone with Alzheimer’s has difficulty remembering things and following conversations, neither of you will get anything out of an argument except feeling more frustrated, hurt, angry, or upset. If you do get upset, try to walk away for a few minutes until you calm down, or at least stop and simply breathe for a few minutes.
- Try to laugh. What you can’t change, you eventually have to accept – and humor smooths the way for both of you. Don’t forget to find time to watch comedies or simply laugh at yourself – or with your loved one.
- Use music. Not only will music help soothe your soul, but singing, dancing, or simply listening to music can often distract someone with Alzheimer’s and make them feel better.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Join a support group, reach out to friends and family, and give yourself “time off” to take care of your own needs. Remember, that if you aren’t healthy – both physically and emotionally – then you won’t be able to keep up with the task of caring for your loved one.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your loved one’s doctor with questions and concerns, and don’t feel like getting professional help or in-home care means you are giving up. Putting the needs of both yourself and your loved one first is best for both of you.
Luckily, there are agencies with the special training needed to care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Whether it’s getting someone to come in once a week to help with in-home personal care like housekeeping, laundry, and your loved one’s personal hygiene; having someone take you shopping or to run errands; or letting them take your loved one to doctor’s appointments, Specialty Care Services can help. We also provide specialized home health care and offer caregiver support services to help you in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Reach out for the help you need today!