Loves Great Challenge
The current statistics regarding Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. are sobering—and are only projected to grow worse. Today more than 5 million Americans have Alz- heimer’s disease, and the number is projected to climb to perhaps 16 million by 2050.
For family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, the costs can be enormous. In 2016, family caregivers provided an estimated $230 billion and 18.2 billion hours caring for those with dementia.
The cost of care, however, often goes far beyond money and time. The role of an Alzheimer’s care- giver can be stressful, exhausting, and frightening, especially as the disease progresses into more advanced stages.
For those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, we hope these suggestions will be helpful.
An Alzheimer’s patient can easily become agitated when once simple tasks become more difficult. To ease frustrations:
• Establish a basic routine to make each day less confusing. Schedule tasks such as bathing at times when they’re most alert and refreshed. But allow some flexibility for spontaneous activ- ities.
• Provide simple instructions. Pa- tients best understand clear, one- step communication.
• Keep them involved. Allow your loved one to do as much as pos- sible, such as setting the table or helping you mix ingredients for a dish.
• Provide choices. It’s best to minimize choices, but give them some. Provide two outfits to choose from, for example, or ask if they would like to go for a walk or watch a movie.
• Take your time. Things will take longer than they once did, so schedule more time for tasks so they don’t feel hurried or pres- sured.
MAINTAIN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
• Avoid scattered rugs, extension cords, and any clutter that might lead to a fall. Install hand rails in critical areas.
• Install locks on cabinets that contain potentially harmful things like weapons, tools, dangerous utensils, medicines, alcohol, or toxic cleaning substances.
• Lower the temperature on the hot water heater to avoid scalding.
• Keep matches and lighters out of reach, and if they smoke, make sure they’re supervised
• Turn off the radio or TV, keep unneeded items off the table, and if necessary, serve one thing at a time.
• Don’t hurry, and give them plenty of time to eat.
• If swallowing is difficult, serve softer foods like cottage cheese, ap- plesauce, or scrambled eggs.
Specialists really don’t know how to prevent Alzheimer’s, but exercising your brain by learning new things, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, are thought to help keep your brain healthy.