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Useful Tips for Home Care of Alzheimer’s Patients

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Attending on an Alzheimer’s patient at home is by no means easy: the home caregiver needs oodles of time, empathy, compassion, patience, and perseverance, for starters. Here are some useful tips for caregivers to make it a smoother experience for them as well as the patient:

  • Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s and its implications, and keenly observe the improvement/ degeneration with reference to the patient’s response and overall faculties that occur with the progression of the disease, which will require keeping in regular touch with the doctor and staying abreast of the latest findings and research on the topic.
  • Familiarize yourself with the medication and follow-up test schedules.
  • Provide a safe living space: install handle bars in the toilet to avoid falls; remove rugs or mats which may be in the way to avoid them from tripping over them; install cctv cameras to keep an eye on them remotely; and keep medicines, candles, matchsticks, sharp items like keys, knives and forks, etc., and alcohol, out of their reach.
  • Keep a call bell handy and within their reach.
  • Provide a peaceful environment for them by speaking in a low tone, and try to avoid loud sounds around them so as not to upset them, and trigger mood swings and irritability.
  • Plan your day’s activities to include spending quality time with them. Engage them in activities that they enjoy, like playing cards or board games, listening to music together, or watching a movie, or visit friends, while keeping in mind that you may not always receive the response you may be hoping for, and that their speech, actions and movements may no longer be in their own control.
  • Encourage them to be as independent as possible, by drawing them into participating in small chores like choosing their own clothes to wear while you lay them out, or encouraging them to advise you on their choice of food, help with gardening, etc.
  • A fixed time schedule for daily routine chores like bathing, dressing, meals, naps, recreation activities, morning/evening outings, etc. go a long way in making them feel sorted and stable.
  • When the disease is mild to moderate, with considerable deterioration in remembering and recognizing people, places and objects, it is advisable to place a slip in their pocket at all times, with your name, contact number, address, doctor’s contact number and medication, in case they wander out on their own.
  • As the disease progresses, there is a great overall deterioration in response, hearing and all other faculties. They may have difficulty swallowing or chewing, and may suffer from urinary and fecal incontinence – worse still, they may not be able to express that they need to use the toilet.  
  • Take counseling or join a caregivers’ support group if it becomes too stressful. Remain patient, all the while bearing in mind that Alzheimer’s is accompanied by the inability to manage even the smallest of tasks on their own, memory loss, apathy towards oneself, towards everybody, and the world in general.

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