What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

While the exact cause behind Alzheimer’s is not fully understood, researchers believe at a basic level, it’s the build-up of protein around brain cells. 

This causes abnormal brain functioning by triggering several toxic events such as the shrinking and dying of brain cells. This protein buildup also damages neurons.

Researchers believe these two types of proteins are responsible for memory issues –

Steps For Caring For A Senior With Alzheimer’s

Research The Diagnosis

The better you understand the disease, the better you can prepare for it. Start by getting yourself educated. You can opt for workshops, online courses, or ask your doctor about helpful material. 

When you know the severity of the condition and the associated challenges, you can avoid unnecessary frustrations and help them better.

Create A Safe Home Environment

Alzheimer’s disease affects cognition leading to poor judgment. Disorientation makes the patient prone to injuries. Thus, to ensure safety –

  • Make sure to avoid clutter and cords that might cause accidental falls. Grab bars and handrails can make navigation easy.
  • Keep hazardous, toxic, and sharp objects in a closet and put a lock on it
  • Always check hot water levels to avoid burns
  • Always have a fire extinguisher handy. Keep lighters and matches away and out of the patient’s reach.

Select from a list of secured Alzheimer’s care communities that have necessary safety measures in place.

Reduce Frustrations

Dementia is a frustrating condition that increases agitation as even simple tasks become difficult. These fips can ease your senior’s frustration –

  • Create a routine – Set timing for things like bathing, eating, etc. to create a sense of familiarity. But, be sure to leave room for some spontaneous activities as well.
  • Avoid multiple naps – Prolonged or multiple naps can cause confusion between day and night. So, limit napping time.
  • Ensure some autonomy – Give the senior a chance to make choices. For example, ask if they would like a cold or hot beverage or the freedom to pick their outfits. Making independent choices can reduce frustrations. 
  • Limit distractions – During conversation and mealtimes, turn off the TV and avoid distractions to promote focus.

Be Flexible

Since dementia is a progressive condition, with time the person will grow more dependent on you. Accordingly, you might have to make changes in your routine and care. The person may grow more erratic and angry. Be patient and flexible. For example, if the person shows resistance against bathing, do it less often. 

Engaging Activities For Seniors With Alzheimer’s

Plan hobbies and activities that will spark interest. Here are a few activities that are often used in the best memory care facilities that you can try –

  • Plan a musical or a sing-along if the dementia is mild. For others, try engaging in a nursery rhythm.
  • Buy a knitting kit and let your loved one feel the yarn. Knitting and crocheting can help with cognition.
  • Encourage visual expression with painting, sketching, art and craft.
  • Watch old TV shows and movies together
  • Go for simple tasks like folding a laundry
  • Puzzles like colored or shape puzzles are great for passing time

Tips For Communicating With Your Parent

Avoid Power Struggles

Avoid pushing, haranguing, or nagging your parents as it can increase stubbornness. Also, avoid giving any ultimatums. This might cause yelling, slamming doors, and unnecessary arguing. In the long run, a power struggle can damage the relationship.

Ask About Your Senior’s Preferences

Try to provide for as many of your senior’s preferences as possible. For example, ask about which family members they like the best and want to spend time with. You could also ask which TV show they want to watch. Ask if they would like to tour some local memory care facilities in the area. The more you take their preferences into account, the better they will feel.

Ask Simple Questions

Avoid asking multiple questions at a time. Stick with questions that beg yes and no answers. Don’t give them too many choices to avoid overwhelm. Also, avoid open-ended questions as they can lead to confusion. Use visual cues and prompts like showing two different colored shirts to pick from.

Be Straightforward When Speaking To Your Parent

Sometimes less is more; especially when it comes to giving a Dementia patient explanation or details. Instead of going too much into detail, it’s better to give them an overview of the larger picture. Keep things straightforward to avoid overwhelm/confusion. They are less likely to show resistance when they are clear on the subject.

Communicate Assertively

Healthy communication is the most powerful way to reduce frustration and encourage healthy expression. It allows people to better understand each other. However, it’s important to avoid being aggressive or passive. Instead, be assertive while communicating.

When you’re assertive, you can better express your desires and needs respectfully. You also respect other people’s opinions and wants. It allows all the parties to engage in a healthy, dignified dialogue.

In Conclusion

Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can be difficult, overwhelming, and frustrating at times. But, it can also be highly rewarding as you make a positive difference in someone’s life. The care, compassion, and love involved in the care can make all the pain worth it. If it gets overwhelming, always consider looking at local assisted living and memory care options to get help.