Dementia and Alzheimer's Care: Everyday Tips for Caregivers

AllsWell Team

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Did you know that one in nine adult Americans aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer's? Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia claim more lives in the US than breast and prostate cancers combined.

These are alarming statistics, not only for patients and loved ones but also for the healthcare industry. Currently, 11 million Americans provide unpaid Alzheimer's and dementia care services. However, many don't fully understand that caring for dementia patients comes with increased responsibilities as the disease progresses.

So, how do you deliver Alzheimer's care, and what should caregivers know caring for a parent with dementia at home? Keep reading to find out.

Caring for Dementia in Early Stages

In the first stage of dementia or Alzheimer's, patients often resist care services because of being in denial. Besides, Alzheimer's and dementia don't require too much attention in the earliest stages. Here is how to help someone with dementia at the onset of the condition.

Help the Patient Understand and Accept the Diagnosis

Embracing a dementia diagnosis is hard for everyone, from the patient to the family. The earlier all the involved parties come to terms with the news, the better. Hence, you should accept the reality and help the patient transition to a new healthcare routine. Most importantly, don't hesitate to seek early-stage intervention. You should also encourage the patient to pursue activities that help them see the brighter side of life, despite suffering from the condition.

Manage Conflicting Emotions

Caring for a parent with dementia at home can be daunting at first, as it comes with conflicted emotions. They can range from anger, fear, denial, or frustration. The situation can also affect the relationships between the patient and the caregiver. To mitigate this, confide in someone who can understand your fears. 

Harness the Resources for Dementia Care

Now you're past the diagnostic and conflicting emotions stages. It will help if you use all the resources available to provide home care for dementia patients.

Online resources and non-profit association groups ensure continuous practical support and advice on how to take care of someone with dementia at different stages of the condition.

Learn More About Your Loved One and Prepare for the Future

The understanding of dementia or Alzheimer's care varies among professionals. But generally, learning how to help someone with dementia starts with responding to the condition at different stages, which will help you prepare for future challenges. Also, this will allow you to manage frustration and expectations.

Changes in Communication and Behavior for People With Dementia

Although dementia progresses naturally, some factors, such as lifestyle, can stall or advance the condition's progress. Either way, Alzheimer's caregivers need ways to preserve their loved one's independence and dignity as soon as they exhibit changes in communication and behavior. Here are some tips for doing this.

Try to Slow the Progress

Although Alzheimer's caregivers can leverage various treatments to slow down the condition's progress, helping the patient switch to a healthier lifestyle takes time. 

Regular exercises, a balanced diet, nutrition, and hobbies can help patients and caregivers manage their stress. Doing this will prevent rapid deterioration while improving brain health.

Deal with Short Memory Loss

It's common for people dealing with dementia to become forgetful during the initial stages of the condition. This may include short-term memory loss that makes the patient miss appointments or forget to track their medications. 

As worrying as it might be, don't confront the situation directly. Instead, let the patient decide when they need help remembering a name or checking their dosage before taking medication.

Get Support for Dementia Care Providers

Even if you know how to deal with dementia in a parent setting, you should never do it alone if you have support at your disposal. Hundreds of organizations and volunteering Alzheimer's caregivers are already out there, ready to help you carry the burden. 

Reach out and talk to these people to get the support you need when caring for a parent with dementia at home.

Healthy and Active Lifestyle for People With Dementia

As noted earlier, the kind of lifestyle that dementia patients adopt has a lot to do with how well they'll manage the condition in the long run. Some of the things to do with dementia patients is to help them live a more active and healthier lifestyle through:

Mini Workouts

Dementia caregivers should help their patients or loved ones stay active for at least 30 minutes every day. However, this entirely depends on the patient's mood. Ensure that they are okay with the mini-workout activity. If you want to take them out for a walk, ensure that they don't mind it.

Light Exercises or Gym Sessions

Besides indoor and outdoor mini-workouts, dementia caregivers can also help their patients with a mix of gym exercises to keep their brain and body active. The activities suitable for home care for dementia patients include stretching, weight lifting, and dancing. Light gym exercises enhance endurance, balance, flexibility, and, most importantly, mental health.

Socialization

Socializing with patients dealing with dementia helps them manage their stress levels. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle begins with a good state of mind, and communication can significantly help improve the patients' condition. They must feel a sense of belonging to a community instead of isolation.

Balanced Diet

Caring for a parent with dementia at home means switching to healthier and balanced diets to delay the condition's progress. In addition to more fruits and vegetables for the patient, the doctor may advise you to increase their whole grain and lean protein intake. It would help if the patient avoided fatty and sugary foods.

Tips for Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

Alzheimer's caregivers also need to think about their well-being to be able to provide the necessary help. Moreover, every stage of the condition brings new challenges that you need to prepare for adequately, including improving home safety. Here are some dementia caregiver tips.

Document Your Progress and Experiences

It would also help start journal entries on the first day of interacting with a dementia patient or loved one. This includes documenting your challenges, experiences, and thoughts to help you understand the patient better. 

Celebrate the Small Wins

As counterintuitive as it might sound amidst dementia challenges, celebrating small wins and expressing daily gratitude can keep the stress at bay. Doing this helps you focus on the patient's needs, depending on how they respond to different care regimens. You'll focus on what the patient is capable of instead of what they aren't.

Emotional Awareness

Staying focused and calm when caring for dementia patients can be pretty daunting. It will help if you practice emotional awareness skills, such as self-regulation, empathy, and motivation for uplifted mood and spirits. This will keep you going even during the most challenging days.

Use GPS Tracking and a Panic Button

The AllsWell Alert app can help track the activity and condition of your loved one 24/7. This personal monitoring app sends emergency GPS alerts when the user clicks the panic button or stays inactive for too long. This way, you can rest assured that your loved ones are safe and sound when you are away. Click here to use AllsWell free for a month.

Taking care of a dementia patient can be stressful and even more demanding if you're doing it alone. Practice our dementia care tips to overcome the obstacles and help the patient lead a meaningful life.

Final Thoughts

Although caring for dementia and Alzheimer's can be challenging for dementia caregivers, there are ways to ease the burden. You need to ensure enough physical activity, consider emotional health, and adopt personal safety solutions like AllsWell Alert.

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