Anyone caring for elderly family members knows the amount of time it takes to coordinate their care. There might be in-home senior care providers involved and medical appointments to schedule with multiple physicians and specialists. There is also the task of making sure your family member makes it to the appointment and that someone is
One of the most challenging aspects of taking care of elderly parents with Alzheimer’s is adjusting to the troubling and sometimes abrupt changes in personality and behavior. Sometimes, family members are still in a phase of denial and aren’t ready to cope with the reality of Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects their aging parent. Other times, the changes happen quickly and the family is struggling to adapt. The following are steps to help family caregivers with some common Alzheimer’s care situations.
1. Eating and Drinking
As Alzheimer’s progresses, mealtime routines and food selections may need to be adapted.
- Keep an eye on chewing and swallowing and, if necessary, advise when to chew and swallow.
- Serve small, bite-sized foods that are easy to pick up and chew.
- Limit the distractions of television and even bright, patterned tablecloths, placemats, and dishes.
- Use silverware with large handles. Try bendable straws and lidded cups.
Hygiene care and bathing work best when caregivers help the loved one feel relaxed and in control.
- Set a routine time for bathing. If the person is used to a morning shower, stick with that time of day.
- Respect dignity and privacy by placing a towel over the bathing person’s shoulders or lap so he or she feels less exposed.
- Use an adjustable-height shower chair or tub bench. For added safety, use a hand-held showerhead, nonslip bath mat, and grab bars.
3. Rummaging and Hiding Things
Often an Alzheimer’s patient is looking for something specific but cannot communicate that, so he or she rummages through storage places and/or squirrels away random objects.
- Remove access to harmful items, such as cleaning products, sharp knives, firearms, and power tools.
- Create a specific place—a basket, tote bag or chest of drawers—where the person with Alzheimer’s can freely sort through safe, tactile items including socks, stuffed toys, or hats.
- Lock up valuable items like jewelry, keys, important papers, checkbooks, and charge cards.
Paul Blom, CEO
April 21, 2015
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