If you are caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, consider these tips to help him or her maintain a sense of independence and dignity as they become more dependent on you.
- Establish a routine to make each day less agitating and confusing. People with Alzheimer’s disease can still learn and follow routines. Often it is best to schedule tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, when the person is most alert and refreshed. Allow some flexibility within the routine for spontaneous activities.
- Expect things to take longer than they used to. Allow the person with Alzheimer’s disease to have frequent breaks. Schedule more time for tasks so that you don’t need to hurry him or her.
- Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease might be able to set the table with the help of visual cues or dress independently if you lay out clothes in the order they go on.
- Fewer options are better but give the person with Alzheimer’s disease choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask if he or she prefers a hot or cold beverage, or ask if he or she would rather go for a walk or see a movie.
- People with Alzheimer’s disease best understand clear, one-step communication.
- Turn off the TV and minimize other distractions at mealtime and during conversations to make it easier for the person with Alzheimer’s disease to focus.
Create a safe environment
- Avoid scatter rugs, extension cords and any clutter that could cause your loved one to trip or fall. Install handrails or grab bars in critical areas.
- Install locks on cabinets that contain anything potentially dangerous, such as medicine, alcohol, guns, toxic cleaning substances, dangerous utensils and tools.
- Lower the thermostat on the hot-water heater to prevent burns.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach. If your loved one smokes, make sure he or she does so only with supervision. Make sure a fire extinguisher is accessible, and the smoke alarms have fresh batteries.