When a parent or another loved one receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the news lands like a devastating blow. Knowing that you will soon watch someone you love lose their memory and struggle with daily tasks is emotionally wrenching. In addition, your loved one will eventually need intensive dementia care, which can put heavy strains on a family—both psychologically and financially.
Although it’s unlikely that you will be able to provide all the care necessary for a parent diagnosed with dementia, many children do take on a large share of the burden of looking after their parents. For most people, caring for aging parents or loved ones who have received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a whole new experience, and one that is very overwhelming. Knowing a few basics about dementia care can help ease the burden.
Everyday Care for Those Diagnosed with Dementia
Because people with Alzheimer’s will start to experience changes in memory and their ability to think clearly, they will need help performing many everyday tasks. The inability to perform what used to be simple tasks can prove quite frustrating, and understandably so. Here are some ways you can help support a loved one who is struggling with dementia:
- Establish a routine. For people with Alzheimer’s, doing the same thing at the same time every day can help them stay focused on and involved in their own lives. Furthermore, certain tasks need to be performed at a time when the patient is most alert, so it’s important to schedule these at that specific time each day.
- Help your loved one write down tasks and reminders. Writing down the things they need to do and remember will encourage them to take responsibility for their life, and will also help keep their mind sharp.
- Allow the person to do as much as possible by themselves. Although Alzheimer’s patients will need more and more help as their disease progresses, it’s important to allow them as much independence and autonomy as possible.
- Provide choices. Providing the person with simple choices, like the choice between two shirts to wear, can help them feel empowered and stay focused.
- Reduce distractions. Make sure the environment your loved one lives in is free from distractions, particularly during mealtime or conversations. Otherwise, they may get confused.
Safety Considerations for People Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
As well as helping the person with their daily tasks, providing them with a safe environment is an important part of dementia care. Here are a few things you can do to prevent them from getting injured:
- Lock away potentially dangerous objects, such as cleaners, medicines, matches, or knives.
- Remove anything that the person could trip over, such as extensions cords or small rugs. Also, install handrails or grab bars to help the person maintain their balance.
- Keep the thermostat on a lower setting so that the person won’t accidentally burn themselves.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets.
In addition to providing care for a loved one diagnosed with dementia, there are also important legal considerations that come with looking after their affairs. At the first word of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you should contact an elder law attorney to ensure the proper legal documents are in place so you can focus on providing care, and not a lengthy and costly legal process. Drafting documents while your loved one is still coherent is essential, though there are limited options for those whose loved ones have already lost significant cognitive function.
At Miller Estate and Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping people whose loved ones have received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Use the brief form below to download a copy of our free guide: Caring for Aging Parents or call (256) 251-2137 to speak with a member of our legal team today!