When you have a family member with Alzheimer’s disease it can be very overwhelming. Taking care of them can be difficult depending on what stage their disease is at. The number one most important factor in caring for your family member is their safety, because of memory loss; it might not be safe for them to be left alone. Other important factors are your family member’s comfort and entertainment activities they can participate in on a daily basis. Losing memory and struggling with the other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are all important factors to consider when caring for your loved one.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating brain condition that can cause extreme safety concerns for you and your loved one. Memory is an important aspect of your loved one being able to stay safe when you are not around. As the disease progresses it may not be possible for your loved one to live alone any more. If they have a spouse it might be possible to stay in the home for a longer period of time, but you will need to help ensure the family member with Alzheimer’s disease is not left alone. This may take some creative work as a family to help ensure the safety of your loved one.
Local support groups can be invaluable resources in helping your family set up a safety plan to ensure there is never a moment when your loved one is in danger. Setting up scheduled day programming or an in home assistant may be necessary if family members cannot be there for your loved one at all times.
The things that keep your loved one comfortable might be different as the disease progresses. Some Alzheimer’s patients find it comforting to have their favorite blanket with them or other clothing pieces. The smells associated with these items are ingrained into their body, so although they might not remember that this blanket or sweatshirt was their favorite. Just having them near the Alzheimer’s patient can cause a calming effect for them. Other items which can give them comfort include, old photos from their past, favorite sports team memorabilia and furniture they are comfortable with.
If your loved one needs to move into an assisted living facility, work with the facility to make sure you can bring the items that are most important to your family member. These items may seem inconsequential but they are helpful to bringing calm to your Alzheimer’s family member.
As the disease progresses it can change the things that an individual finds entertaining, but there are some universal things that people tend to enjoy. Comedy is a key entertainment that people at different stages of Alzheimer’s disease tend to still enjoy. Find a couple DVD’s from comedians that you think your loved one will enjoy. Keep them on hand and watch them with your family member whenever you can. The joy of laughing is universal, no matter what stage your family member’s Alzheimer’s disease is at.
Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult role, but if you keep these three key factors in mind you will be able to make life comfortable and happy for your loved one. Safety, comfort and entertainment are things you can plan ahead of time before the disease takes too much of the brain power of your loved one. Let them participate in the planning of their life and the things they feel are important to have around, even when they cannot remember how important these things are to them. Together, as a family, you can make life wonderful for your loved one.