If you have a parent or family member who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll likely need to step into the role of caregiver to ensure their safety. Here is what you need to know about caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia
While we may use the two terms interchangeably, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is actually a form of dementia. Meanwhile, dementia is a non-specific term for cognitive decline.
Because Alzheimer’s is a subset of dementia and causes cognitive decline, you’ll often hear the terms used as if they are the same thing. If you’re not sure whether your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, speak to your healthcare provider.
Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s Disease
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease require extra care and monitoring eventually. They may forget to do basic self-care tasks such as eating, drinking, and showering and often need help taking their medications on time. If you’re wondering how to help a parent with dementia, speak to their healthcare provider to create a care plan for mental and physical wellbeing.
Alzheimer Caregiver Tips
Here are a few tips to consider if you care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
- Put Safety First: Individuals with dementia are more easily disoriented and often should not be out and about independently. This means that you’ll need to accompany your loved one on walks and errands.
- If you are delegating the task to a family member, make sure that they are fully aware of the situation and what precautions to take. It is also good to invest in home safety tools such as a fall prevention monitor.
- Figure Out Medications: The doctor may suggest a medication to help slow cognitive decline, but your loved one may also be taking essential medications for other conditions such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, and diabetes.
- Speak to their doctor to get a list of medications and make sure that you have that list with you wherever you go. The list allows all medical professionals to be on the same page and avoid adverse reactions from two medications. Plus, having the list will help you stay on top of your loved one’s medication schedule.
- You can also invest in home monitoring tools such as blood pressure monitors or glucose monitors to help keep better track of your loved one’s health.
- Promote Healthy Diet and Exercise: Reasonable exercise and a healthy diet can keep your loved one overall good health. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym or even walking. Resistance bands are tools that work well at home for exercise.
- Talk to Your Family: Everyone, including the children, will need to understand that their loved one may become confused and not recognize them. You may also want to speak to your family members about stepping in when you need time to take care of your own personal matters.
- Allow Yourself to Get Help: Part of being a good caregiver is taking care of your own health and wellbeing. If you are exhausted, stressed, or depressed, you will not provide a high quality of care.
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