In our last blog, we took the big picture of Alzheimer’s disease and broke it down into three more manageable pieces, with caregiving tips for each. Throughout the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, one common thread to consider remains: what aspects of living need to be taken over for the person, and what can he or she continue to do independently? Although it may seem easier to simply do everything for someone suffering from dementia, try some of these tips to provide assistance instead, maximizing independence and sense of self-worth:
- Allow extra time. Try not to let the issue of time guide the decision on whether or not to take over a task. If your loved one with Alzheimer’s has the ability to perform the task himself, allow the extra time needed and provide encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way.
- Break it down. Taking a larger task and separating it into small, simple steps can change it from insurmountable to possible. For example, break down the task of getting dressed into one article of clothing at a time, with gentle prompts at each step.
- Look beyond verbal cues. Sometimes, the best way to communicate and assist in a task is through non-verbal demonstration. In the example of getting dressed above, showing the senior how to put your arm through a sleeve or slip your foot into a sock can be much clearer than speaking.
- Rely on prompts. The brain has an incredible ability to connect tasks with sensory prompts. Simply placing a toothbrush in your loved one’s hand in front of the sink, or a spoonful of food at mealtime, can spark sensory memories and result in taking the next step to complete the task.
- Call in reinforcements. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can take a toll on caregivers in a variety of both emotional and physical ways, and it’s important for the primary caregiver to have backup care available to allow for respite. Take family and friends up on offers to help, and call in a professional home care agency that specializes in dementia care.
For more tips on providing compassionate, encouraging and independence-sustaining care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, visit our Alzheimer’s Awareness resource page, or call us at 603-217-0149. We can provide a free in-home assessment and share more about our specialized New Hampshire dementia care services.