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When a Loved One is Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s takes a lot of patience and can seem overwhelming at times. You may feel a great strain from a loved one’s changed personality and sometimes unpredictable actions. Keep in mind that the better you understand this disease, the better you can respond to his needs.

Depending on your loved one’s needs, and how your caregiving is affecting you, you may need to consider looking into what care options are available. You can hire a caregiver through an agency or hire a caregiver privately. Look for a caregiver who has these qualities: patience and perseverance. It is important to hire a caregiver who is trained to do the following: help safely manage activities of daily living, such as eating (to maintain adequate nutrition), bathing, dressing, grooming, sleeping, and toileting; incorporate activities that your loved one seems to enjoy into his daily routine to achieve a sense of consistency and familiarity; help organize the day with structured and recreational activities that can reduce agitation, improve mood, and keep your loved one socially and mentally stimulated; assist with medical appointments, communicate with health care professionals, and provide medication reminders. A well-trained caregiver can act in your place, for a few hours or longer, and help you set a realistic schedule that allows you time for rest and relaxation.

It’s the nature of Alzheimer’s to progressively get worse as memory deteriorates. However, its symptoms can be controlled and its progress can be delayed through love, support and understanding. You and the caregiver can offer help but make sure that your loved one does not feel like a person who constantly needs help or feels like a patient with an illness. You need to respect his thoughts and help him keep his dignity as an individual. Involve him in daily activities as much as he is able but use your best judgment as to what is safe and what he can handle. Remember that Alzheimer’s impairs judgment and problem-solving skills; you need to create a safe environment for him.

In its advanced stages, round-the-clock care is usually needed. Thinking ahead to these possibilities can help make decisions easier. You have the right to seek help; the more support you have, the better you will be able to help your loved one.

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