Weekly Wellness: Advice for Alzheimers Caregivers
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s (or dementia), you know how challenging it can be. The stress can be overwhelming for everyone involved. What we do know is that trying to keep our loved ones as mentally and physically active as possible can help as the illness progresses.
This week, I am reviewing an article that was written from the vantage point of the caregivers. Caregivers were asked to give their best advice for how other caregivers can help to keep loved ones active and engaged.
-Create opportunities for your loved one to participate in activities they’ve always loved and can still do safely. Drawing, dancing, singing – make a list of all the activities that might be right for your situation.
-Adapt activities that they enjoy but may not be able to do as safely. Your loved one likes to go fishing – but it’s probably not safe for them to be in a boat, keep it on the dock – and not alone.
-Ask what goals they would like to accomplish and try to help them. One woman’s mother kept saying she wanted to visit California where she had been married, so her daughter took her!
-Connect your loved one with others who also have Alzheimer’s. Getting involved with the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and/or joining the online support community (ALZConnected.com) can be a great help. There is also a 24/7 helpline (1-800-272-3900).
-Help them exercise whichever cognitive skills seem most intact. If communication skills are still great, suggest they write a blog or short story.
-Go for walks together. Walking increases mobility, strength and flexibility. And can be a great stress reliever.
-Keep trying new things until you find the methods that work. Try jigsaw puzzles. If they don’t like puzzles, try something else.
-Read out loud, particularly material that connects with their past. Read their favorite authors.
-Consider giving them safe household chores to do. Having a sense of purpose and responsibility can be very helpful.
-Don’t try to force physical or mental activity if they aren’t up for it. Take your time and pay attention to response.
It’s not an easy road, for any of you, and I wish you all the best as you traverse this difficult journey.