Alzheimer’s disease can have an impact on daily living. There are some practical tips that the caregiver of a person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may find useful in helping to maintain their loved one’s independence.
At times, your loved one may become frustrated because the daily tasks that were once easy to carry out have now become difficult. It can be valuable if a caregiver understands that a certain level of patience, love and support are needed in helping a person with Alzheimer’s disease take on tasks each day.
Set Realistic Goals. It may be helpful to determine goals ahead of each day, whether the goal is for your loved one to sit in the backyard, set the dinner table or shop at the grocery store. However, ensure that the goals are realistic in order to lessen feelings of failure and frustration. If a particular task seems as though it may be especially challenging, you or your loved one may want to ask a family member or friend to help.
Develop a Daily Routine. A routine may reduce frustration, decrease agitation and allow your loved one to joyfully anticipate their day. Try putting together a schedule of activities that begin the moment your loved one wakes up each day. Time is not as important as the routine. Understand that it is okay to switch it up if your loved one needs to. Remember to remove obstacles to make each job easier. For example, if the task is showering and getting dressed for the day, have all toiletries readily accessible and in view before your loved one starts their routine. Also, it’s important to provide positive affirmations after a task is completed so your loved one knows they are on the right track. So after dressing, you could simply say “You look absolutely fabulous!”
Approach One Task at a Time. When thinking about tasks, you can break them out one by one. Explain all of the actions that will be necessary for your loved one to complete the task at hand. Be mindful of your language and your tone – short sentences spoken in a quiet and informative tone may be easier for your loved one to understand. Then, provide ample time for your loved one to complete each task. If a certain task becomes too difficult, he or she should stop and try again later in the day or the following day. Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance.
Assess and Make Adjustments as Needed. Assess the goals and the routine. Here are examples of questions to ask during this assessment: Should a certain goal be added or eliminated? Are any adjustments needed to the daily routine? Could anything have been done differently to have your loved one feel more successful? Daily living is not set in stone, so remember to make the necessary adjustments when needed.
Overall, involve your loved one in daily activities as much as he or she is able. Because each day can bring new challenges, it is also important that your loved one receive adequate support from his or her circle of care to help maintain quality of life each day.