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Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Tips for At-Home Care

You want your loved one to get the best care — at home. Yet, Alzheimer’s and dementia do not make this easy. Home care requires patience and courage — a noble, rewarding task. The following tips help ease the sense of feeling overwhelmed and empower you to give the best care.

Know Your Stuff

Understanding the disease affecting your loved one lets you plan for future needs. It helps you empathize. It also empowers you to set realistic expectations for yourself and the one you care about. Knowing your short term and long-term options helps you decide what works best for both of you. Also, always make sure your checking reliable sources of information.

Set a Flexible Routine

Predictable routines reduce confusion and frustration for you and your loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. You both benefit from a sense of consistency.

– Set consistent times for daily activities i.e. meals, bathing, dressing, bedtime.

– Use cues to communicate routine i.e. opening the blinds in the morning, reading before bed.

– Give your loved ones responsibility for daily activities as able.

But also remember, changes in behavior and personality may similarly call for changes in routine. So stay flexible.

Get Support

Setting up a support network reduces the loneliness of caring for an ailing loved one. It also gives you resources and offers new ideas when you get stuck.

– Talk to family and friends.

– Look for in-home help (housecleaning, laundry, meals, shopping, errands, etc.)

– Consider day programs.

– Set up in-home or out-of-home respite care.

– Connect with a support group.

Make Time for You

Set the guilt aside. You become a better caregiver when you take regular, consistent breaks. Stress is reduced and satisfaction in your role increases, which improves endurance.

Does taking a break sound impossible? Try a few of these ideas:

– Use your support network to give you a day off.

– Arrange respite care for weekends away.

– Prepare healthy meals — this benefits you both.

– Exercise daily: sneak in a few calisthenics on commercials, run up and down the stairs.

– Pursue a hobby.

– Maintain relationships: get ice cream with a friend, walk around the block with your neighbor.

– Reflect: journal, keep a gratitude list, celebrate abilities, imagine your loved one’s view.

Alzheimer’s and dementia make at-home care an all-consuming job — if you let it. Be proactive. Take the steps necessary to care for both of you, and enjoy the time you have together.

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