Alzheimer's. Everyday life - Advice & Tips
Everyday tips for relatives.
Even though, to date, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, the illness does not have to be endured with impending doom. Relatives can also play their part in helping Alzheimer's patients to better manage their everyday activities. Two thirds of all dementia patients live at home and are cared for by their families. With the right care and attention it is possible at first to keep the mind active and slow the rate of deterioration. Basically, any activities which demand the contribution of an intact memory and ability to learn should be avoided.
So you should take the following advice to heart when dealing with Alzheimer's:
- Try to remain calm when dealing with the patient and give them plenty of time.
- Be patient in conversations, leave plenty of time for response and don't interrupt as soon as there is any sign of hesitation.
- If the patient doesn't understand you, then repeat what you have said in simple terms.
Avoid & criticism & conflicts, give praise
- Generally avoid any criticism – this will make life easier not only for the patient, but for you as well.
- Give the Alzheimer sufferer praise and affirmation whenever possible, for this will help to sustain their self-confidence.
- Confirm the patient's viewpoint. By constantly trying to correct them, you may foster uncertainty, shame and anger.
- Don't tax the patient with decisions, but approach them in such a way that your ailing loved one does not feel patronised.
- Attempt to placate rather than fuel conflicts and aggression.
Arrange for powers of authority
- Right at the start of the disease, ensure that the patient's personal and financial affairs are properly managed. If the patient is only mildly affected, he or she may still be able to sign a power of attorney.
Structure the daily routine
- Ensure that the environment remains stable and the patient has a structured daily routine. In such a way you can reduce the difficulties which result in lapses of memory.
Encourage an active lifestyle in those affected.
Many Alzheimer sufferers become saddened at the loss of their mental faculties. Relatives should show their loved ones that they are not alone with their illness, and encourage activities such as recalling personal memories in photos, doing housework, listening to music or exercising. If the depression takes a longer hold, then a doctor should be consulted.
If the person affected has become less sexually active than his or her needs would normally allow, then the cause may also be Alzheimer's. A doctor can say whether medication can possibly help.
Consult a doctor if you've lost your appetite.
Family members should keep an eye on any noticeable loss of appetite. If a lack of appetite is one of the side effects of a medicine, your family doctor can perhaps help by prescribing another medicine which is equally effective but does not cause such symptoms. Sometimes the patient will not be able to identify and make such an association. In addition, there are a couple of practical ways of encouraging the appetite – such as a daily walk, an appealing and attractively laid table as well as the tasty presentation of familiar or favourite foods.
Can Alzheimer's be prevented?
Preventing Alzheimer's disease is one of the major objectives of present-day research. According to the German Alzheimer Society (Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft) certain factors can help diminish the risk of the disease. These include a balanced diet which is low in fat and cholesterol, but rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. Physical exercise, mental activities such as memory training, reading and writing, and maintaining social contact, all similarly help to reduce the risks.