The manifestation of Alzheimer's disease will differ from patient to patient, depending greatly on their symptoms and disease progression. Therefore, what might be needed for one may not be suitable for another. You should therefore determine how much and what type of assistance is needed for the person and his/her family.
Sadly, many skills that the Alzheimer's patient had, may already have been lost. However, with proper management of the symptoms and of the disease, progression may be stalled or slowed down. Living with Alzheimer's can be made a bit easier.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Socializing is a very beneficial activity for people with Alzheimer's disease. Plan stimulating daily socialization events with family and friends.
Routine activities to help provide structure, meaning, and a sense of accomplishment for the person with Alzheimer's is beneficial. Try to establish a timely routine with which the person can become familiar. Choose the best times to do activities according to the part of the day when the person is usually at his/her best. As functions are lost, adapt activities and routines to allow the person with Alzheimer's to participate as much as possible. Keep activities familiar and satisfying, and keep instructions simple.
Encourage independence by allowing the person with Alzheimer's to complete as many things as possible by him/herself, even if you have to initiate the activity.
Keep the dressing routine simple. Allow independent dressing as much as possible. Use easy pull-over-the-head dresses or tops andand basic elastic waist pants with minimal snaps, buckles etc. If mobility issues are present and aided dressing becomes necessary, adaptive clothing with back snaps will be easier for caregivers to manage. Avoid inappropriate undressing by using anti-strip jumpsuits with back zippers and reinforced snaps to disable stripping.
Use lots of visual cues and labels. This helps them put things in it's proper place. If you label a drawer according to what it should contain, the person is more likely to put things in the correct place.
Physical exercise, a well balanced and nutritious diet and trying to maintain good general health is very important
Safety is a serious concern. Keep the individual with Alzheimer's out of harm's way by removing things that could endanger them. For example, hide the car keys and matches. Also try to keep the environment safe. Remember: What appears safe to you may not be safe for a person with Alzheimer's.
As a family member, friend or caregiver, it is important to understand and act according to your own physical and emotional limitations. Be sure to take care of yourself, and allow yourself periods of rest and relaxation. Try to get several people involved and ready to be called upon if you need a break.
For more information contact the Alzheimer's Association-National health organization supporting Alzheimer's research, programs and services. www.alz.org