Alzheimer’s and memory loss is challenging for any family. It’s hard for those with the disease to communicate their needs, and that makes it difficult to create a comfortable life for them. You want to support your aging parent in any way possible but it can be tough to know where to start.
There are many ways you can help elders cope with memory loss. As they age with the disease, they will require more attention and it’s important to know how to assist them or if the time has come for additional support such as in-home care.
Keep a Daily Routine
When caring for a parent with memory loss, the first thing on your mind should be making their life as easy as possible.
A great start is developing a daily routine for them and sticking to it, even if they struggle with remembering recent events. A part of them might still expect to eat breakfast at 7 am, shower in the evening, or go on their afternoon walk. Sticking to their routine creates a rhythm and reduces frustration.
But how do you create the perfect plan for your parent?
Replicate Existing Structures
Think of their schedule before memory loss. When did they…
- Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
- Bathe and brush their teeth?
- Sit down and watch TV?
- Normally leave the house?
- Exercise or go on a walk?
- Visit friends?
Your existing routine is the best routine. Using old habits reduces frustration when developing a daily schedule for your loved one.
Balance Activity and Rest
Old age by itself can make daily life exhausting for your parent. Add in Alzheimer’s and memory loss, and it’s easy for them to get worn out.
Because of this, it’s important to give them plenty of time to rest when planning out their daily routine. Tasks that may seem simple to you, like taking a shower or getting dressed, can be mentally and physically draining for someone with memory loss.
Carve out time for them to sit on the couch, listen to music, watch tv, read, or do other activities that they find relaxing. This will give them a chance to recharge and avoid irritation throughout the day.
Be aware of what tires them out and what relaxes them. Adjust the routine accordingly so strenuous activities don’t stack up and they’re not discouraged.
Exercise is a beneficial tool for fighting the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Not only does it help keep your parent in healthy physical shape, but it may also treat their cognitive decline as well.
And we’re not talking about intensive workouts – just simple aerobic exercises can have positive benefits for them both mentally and physically.
Gardening and yard work can be a great place to start, especially if it’s something they’ve enjoyed in the past. Taking them on a short walk around your neighborhood or at a familiar park are easy exercises as well.
The most important thing is to assess what they are capable of physically and get them to move accordingly. Whatever you decide they can do, make sure to start small. The last thing you want is add to a sense of overwhelm.
Make a Friendly Home
Making the home your parent lives in safe and accessible will go a long way in making their lives easier. By reducing risk and making home interaction simple for them, there won’t be as many frustrating moments.
According to studies done by Johns Hopkins, 90% of patients’ needs with dementia are safety-related, and the more support they have with safety the higher they rate their quality of life.
Important safety measures to start with include:
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom and shower
- Preventing access to dangerous appliances
- Placing a baby monitor in the bedroom
- Avoiding clutter
- Locking up any potentially dangerous items
The Mayo Clinic goes more in-depth on this topic here.
In addition to safety, look to remove obstacles for things they still do on their own. Lowering light switches and countertops if they’re in a wheelchair, keeping everything clean and in a familiar place, and having the right physical and mental aids can make a huge difference in your parent’s quality of life.
Depending on the stage of their disease, they may need constant supervision and assistance with daily activities. It’s perfectly normal to look for help at this stage, and you don’t have to put them in a nursing home either.
In-home care allows your aging parent to receive excellent aid while maintaining the freedom of living in their own home. A lot of work goes into taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s and memory loss, and this option can give you the opportunity to spend the same amount of time with your loved one while having a professional take on the role of the primary caregiver.
If you’re considering professional care, then Golden Care can give you a free in-home assessment. We have the experience and resources to help parents with memory loss and we take pride in getting your parent the care they deserve.