Did you know that more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia right now? Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
Here are my recommendations for the best home care for Alzheimer’s patients and how to best support someone living with dementia in a compassionate and caring manner.
- Minimize change in routine and people.
- Allow your loved one to do things that are familiar, such as help wiping down the table or sweeping the floor.
- Use appropriate communication skills by giving your loved one instructions using short phrases one at a time, such as “stand up, walk over here, sit down here, pick up your spoon, put it in the rice, pick up the spoon, open your mouth, put the spoon in your mouth.”
- Congratulate your loved one on completing a task, as opposed to criticizing them. For example, if your loved one puts their shirt on inside out, don’t say that it’s on backwards; say that they did a good job putting on their shirt.
- Don’t surprise your loved one when talking to them about doing something. You should communicate with them, first, to establish a connection. A simple conversation about the weather would be fine.
- Give your loved one appropriate choices and try not to control their decisions. Making decisions helps to promote independence. The choices that you provide them need to be appropriate choices. For example, if it is 100 degrees outside, the choice of clothing should be two outfits that are worn in the summertime (i.e. short sleeves) as opposed to the winter (i.e. long sleeves). So, no matter what they choose, it will be appropriate.
- Keep the environment simple and calming. Don’t overwhelm them with lots of colors and patterns on the floor and walls (i.e. decorative pictures and patterned rugs).
- Establish a predictable routine with them and stick to the routine, so they know what to do next and won’t have to ask you over and over again.
Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care. For more articles by Dr. Macie Smith, go to https://synergyhomecare.com/blog/.
For more on caring for a loved one with dementia, download SYNERGY HomeCare’s free Memory Care Guide.