How to Take Care of Your Parent (And Yourself) When Alzheimer’s Strikes


parent Alzheimer's care

• Put Yourself In Their Shoes

They have lost their connection with their memories. This means, when you sit next to them or enter their room, they may be scared — just the same way you would be if a stranger gets close to you. Also, the surroundings can be scary and confusing. They may not even be able to locate the bathroom. Understanding what they are going through makes you handle the issues with affection and patience. You may have to introduce yourself 100 times in a day or guide them to the bathroom or the backyard for some fresh air. To avoid exhaustion, get someone to help you take care of them.

• Don’t Take Their Actions Seriously

It’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to chase loved ones from their homes, thinking that they are strangers or complain when there is no need to. For instance, your parent can complain that you no longer visit or call them — yet you live in the same house. They may also say they don’t have any children, which could be hurtful. To avoid getting hurt, understand that it’s not your parent who is speaking but the condition. Surround yourself with memories of your parent to calm you when things get tough. Also, show them old photos and family treasures, tell them stories about their family, and bring other family members to spend time with them, and find other ways to jog their memory.

• Connect Through Activities

If your parent loves cooking, spend more time in the kitchen making their favorite meals. For example, if they love knitting, chat as you create beautiful embroideries that they can show off later. The more they are engaged and happy, the less edgy they will be. Spend time grooming them, listen to music together and talk about their memories. They may still remember some events that your parent would be proud to share.

How Can You Help Your Parent Mediate Their Condition?

As much as things will never be the same again, you need to craft ways to slow down the condition or help your parent live a healthier life.

• Have Them Exercise More Often

Some people, especially those not used to a regular exercise routine, may find it hard to adopt one but make it more enjoyable by doing things together such as walking and swimming. Exercise stimulates blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain making it healthier and more active.

• Watch Their Diet

You may want to include healthier foods and adopt a Mediterranean diet. Eat more vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and olive oil. Their diet should contain less red meat, but they can take white meats and eggs and consume wine or beer moderately.

• Ensure That They Rest Well

A good night’s sleep clears amyloids from the brain, helping with their condition. Suggest that they take naps during the day or after exhausting activities. Your parent should sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours every night.

• Engage Their Brain

Whether it’s spending time with friends or taking care of simple house chores, don’t let your parent idle the whole day. Keeping the brain engaged helps keep it healthy, slowing down the effects of Alzheimer’s. Also, encourage them to join support groups or relate with other older adults, volunteer in the local community, or spend more time with family members. Other than this, involve them in activities that stimulate the brain, such as playing board games, puzzles, listening to music, playing an instrument, or learning a new skill.

• Make Sure They Are Taking Their Medication

Although there is no known cure for the condition, there are prescription drugs to slow down or improve the symptoms. A person with Alzheimer’s needs a constant reminder and help taking their medication. Make sure you are there, or someone else assists them to take the drugs as prescribed.

It’s not easy taking care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s, but there are enough resources to help you cope. Also, get a support group where you can learn how to manage your life better. Coordinating with your family doctor and other professional caregivers makes the process easier for you and the entire family.

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