While the aging process brings with it many uncertainties, when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease life becomes difficult and stressful for the caregiver and patient alike. While learning to live with and care for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is fraught with challenges, there are numerous ways to enhance their lives and create peace in an otherwise stressful situation.
First and foremost, you must educate yourself on what symptoms to expect and the best methods for improving them. You cannot fight the enemy that you do not know. Therefore, arm yourself with the knowledge it will take to see you through the days that lay ahead. Know what symptoms are likely to rear their heads and the best methods for managing them.
One of the earliest symptoms that you will encounter is general forgetfulness. Many people do not understand just how serious forgetfulness can be. Forgetting to take medications, bathe, eat and even drink is more than irritating, it is downright dangerous. On order to combat these issues,things like visual reminders can be helpful. You can use a visual schedule, an agenda and even sticky notes to help the patient to know what they are supposed to do each day and what activity comes next. Knowing what’s next, helps them to bring order to their lives.
Another symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s is insomnia. Once again, this is not taken seriously until it begins to affect the lives of all involved caring for the patient who is now experiencing Sundowners. (Sundowners is the condition that often occurs when the patient, with dementia and Alzheimer’s, becomes increasingly more active at night.) Some of the best ways to combat insomnia is to reduce the caffeine intake of the patient and helping the patient to maintain a normal routine that includes rising early, scheduled meal times and daily activities. A structured space and routine is paramount to helping those living with dementia to function normally. By developing these skills, you will be able to manage the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and its effects on the lives of the caregiver and patient alike.