Caregiver Tips When Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s or Memory Issues
Are you caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia? It can take more strength and patience than you ever imagined. Whether you've been a caregiver for years or you're just learning to cope with the disease, look to friends, family and community resources for support.
As you care for a person with Alzheimer's disease, consider practical strategies for communicating and keeping him or her safe. At the same time, understand that your challenges will likely grow as the end of life approaches. Consider ways to prepare for the tough choices ahead.
As a caregiver, it's also important to remember your own needs. Ask for help when you need it and pay attention to warning signs of caregiver stress. Below are some helpful tips when dealing with daily challenges you may encounter as a caregiver.
Bathing can be a confusing experience for a person who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Having a routine can help. Try to:
· Make the bath comfortable; make sure the bathroom is warm and well-lit. Possibly play soft music to promote relaxation.
· Help your loved one feel in control; Explain each step of the bathing process as you go.
· Never leave a confused or frail person alone during bathing; Have your supplies ready and set-up before you start the bathing process.
· Alternate full baths or showers with sponge baths; A full shower or bath two to three times a week is enough. In between, wash your loved one’s face, hands, feet, underarms, and genitals with a washcloth or sponge.
The physical and mental impairment of Alzheimer’s can make dressing a frustrating experience.
· Provide direction; Lay out pieces of clothing in the order they should be put on. Or try handing the clothing one piece at a time as you provide simple dressing instructions.
· Limit choices; Put away some clothes in another room. Too many choices can complicate decision-making.
· Make it easy; you might replace shoe laces, buttons, and buckles with fabric fastening tape or large zipper pulls.
A person who has Alzheimer’s might not remember when he or she last ate; or why it is important to eat. To ease challenges that eating might pose:
· Eat at regular times; Don’t rely on your loved one to ask for food. He or she might not respond to hunger or thirst.
· Offer foods one at a time; Place just one type of food on the plate at a time. You could also offer several small meals throughout the day rather than three larger ones.
· Cut foods into bite-sized portions; Finger foods are even better.
For more information visit:
Alzheimer’s Association Website www.alz.org
Mayo Clinic Website: www.mayclinic.org