How do I Care for Someone
with Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia is one of greatest undertakings. With help and the right support you will be successful.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges of caring for a loved one experiencing memory loss. When caring for Alzheimer’s, having a regular daily routine takes some guesswork out of your day and offers a checklist of sorts. Ensuring you make time for yourself in your daily routine is even more essential.
Memory Care Living® philosophy is to create a structured and well-rounded daily activity program to engage our residents. But the program is extremely helpful for caregivers, too. Following the program in a home setting is one way to make the job of a caregiver easier. The primary premise of the philosophy is that having a similar daily routine is beneficial for those with memory impairment by reducing their stress, and providing direction and comfort, is also important caregivers as caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia is one of the greatest undertakings.
In our homes, engaging residents in social, cognitive, physical, creative / expressive, and emotional / spiritual areas supports and inspires their overall wellness by touching upon different aspects of their lives. Incorporating these activities into a caregiver’s daily routine can help support and inspire their overall wellness.
Maintaining a social life and accepting support from others is essential for caregivers, though oftentimes put on the back-burner. Find regular time to be with friends and family away from your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Consider joining a support group or a club. Say “yes,” when a friend or family member offers to give you a break. Consider respite care for a longer break.
Many people who take care of those with memory loss report feeling like they have “vicarious dementia.” Keep your mind fresh and sharp. Challenge yourself with cognitive activities that you enjoy. Why not do a difficult crossword puzzle out loud with your loved one? Speaking your thoughts will involve them in the process, even though they may not be able to help with an answer – though you never know! Take a class once a week to learn a new language or skill. Make time in every day to read the newspaper, a favorite magazine, or escape into a good book.
Nurturing people, like caregivers, often forget to nurture themselves, and this can take an awful physical toll. Make sure you are seeing your doctor regularly and following his or her advice. Make time every day for physical activity. Take walks with your loved one or stretch and do simple exercises along with them. When your relief arrives, head to the gym to condition your own body and release the frustrations of the day. Consider a yoga class. Join an adult sport club. It may feel like climbing into bed is a better choice, but it isn’t! Engaging in daily physical activity has benefits that you will feel in all aspects of your life!
CREATIVE / EXPRESSIVE
Creative and expressive activities such as art, music, and writing help caregivers, like our Residents, express themselves in less traditional and obvious ways. It is not always easy, or even possible, to articulate how you are feeling. But it can be very satisfying to knead some dough, paint a picture, play the drums, or dig in the garden. Make sure you have an outlet for how you are feeling, whether it is good or bad. Sometimes, it is the process of creating that provides cathartic benefit. Other times, sharing your story, or the product of your expression, increases your self-esteem and renews your identity.
EMOTIONAL / SPIRITUAL
Many people turn to their religion during difficult times. Some find their spiritual-practices essential to their daily being, and others may be more agnostic in their beliefs. The important thing is to maintain what is important to you. In addition to structured religion, maintaining emotional or spiritual balance may include meditation, relaxation, paying attention to and practicing the other roles you may play in your life, such as parent, child, friend, teacher, sports enthusiast, etc.
With our Residents, we take this opportunity to reminisce and stay connected to the uniqueness that is each person, their identity. Attend services, meet with your clergy, pray, realize that you are much more than just a caregiver and celebrate all that is unique about you! If you need more help caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia contact us! We are here for you.