How to care for the person with Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s patient needs to take dementia drugs every day and stimulate the brain in different ways. Therefore, it is recommended that he be accompanied by a caregiver or family member, because being accompanied it is easier to maintain the necessary care and reduce the progression of memory loss.

In addition, the caregiver should help the elderly with day-to-day tasks, such as eating, bathing or dressing, for example, because these activities can be overlooked, due to the characteristics of the disease.

1. Alzheimer’s remedies

The patient with Alzheimer’s needs to take drugs for dementia daily, such as Donepezil or Memantine, which help to slow the progress of the disease and control behaviors, such as agitation and aggression. However, it can be difficult for the patient to take the medication alone, as he can forget and therefore the caregiver must always be attentive to ensure that the medicine is ingested at the times indicated by the doctor. 

However, it is also often the case that people with Alzheimer’s do not want to take the pills. A good tip is to knead and mix the remedies with yogurt or soup, for example.

Read more about the main drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s.

2. Training for the brain

Brain function training should be done daily to stimulate the patient’s memory, language, orientation and attention, and individual or group activities can be done with a nurse or occupational therapist.

The purpose of activities, such as completing a puzzle, viewing old photographs or reading the newspaper, for example, is to stimulate the brain to function properly, for the maximum amount of time, helping to remember moments, to keep talking, to do small tasks and to recognize other people and yourself.

In addition, it is essential to promote patient orientation, having an updated calendar on the home wall, for example, or informing him several times a day about his name, date or season.

See also a list of some exercises that help stimulate the brain .

3. Physical activity

Alzheimer’s disease leads to decreased mobility of the person, increasing the difficulty to walk and maintain balance, which makes it impossible to carry out autonomous daily activities, such as walking or lying down, for example.

Thus, physical activity has several advantages for Alzheimer’s patients, such as:

  • Avoid pain in muscles and joints;
  • Prevent falls and fractures;
  • Increase the peristaltic movements of the intestine, facilitating the elimination of feces;
  • Delay the patient to be bedridden.

You should do physical activity every day, such as walking or water aerobics for at least 30 minutes every day. In addition, depending on the severity of the disease, physiotherapy sessions may be necessary to maintain quality of life. Understand what is done in Alzheimer’s physiotherapy sessions.

4. Social contact

The Alzheimer’s patient must maintain contact with friends and family to avoid isolation and loneliness, which leads to an increase in the loss of cognitive abilities. Thus, it is important to go to the bakery, stroll in the garden or be present at the family’s birthdays, to talk and interact. 

However, it is important to be in quiet places, as the noise can increase the level of confusion, making the person more agitated or aggressive.

5. House adaptation

The patient with Alzheimer’s has a higher risk of falling due to the use of medication and loss of balance and, therefore, his home should be large and there should be no objects in the passageways.

In addition, the patient must wear closed shoes and comfortable clothing to avoid falling. See all the important tips on how to adapt the house to prevent falls.

6. How to talk to the patient

The Alzheimer’s patient may not find the words to express himself or even understand what he is told, not following orders, and that is why it is important to be calm while communicating with him. For that, it is necessary:

  • Being close and looking the patient in the eye, so that the patient realizes that they are talking to you;
  • Hold the patient’s hand , to show affection and understanding;
  • Speak calmly and say short sentences;
  • Make gestures to explain what you are saying, exemplifying if necessary;
  • Use synonyms to say the same thing for the patient to understand;
  • Hear what the patient wants to say, even if it is something he has already said several times, as it is normal for him to repeat his ideas.

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, the patient can hear and see poorly, so it may be necessary to speak louder and facing the patient for him to hear correctly.

However, the cognitive ability of the patient with Alzheimer’s is greatly altered and even if you follow the directions when speaking, it is possible that he still does not understand.

7. How to keep the patient safe

Generally, the patient with Alzheimer’s does not identify the dangers and, it can endanger his life and that of others and to minimize the dangers, it is due to:

  • Place an identification bracelet with the name, address and telephone number of a family member on the patient’s arm;
  • Inform the neighbors of the patient’s condition, if necessary, help him;
  • Keep doors and windows closed to prevent them from escaping;
  • Hide keys , especially from home and car, because the patient may want to drive or leave the house;
  • Having no dangerous objects visible , such as glasses or knives, for example.

In addition, it is essential that the patient does not walk alone, and should always leave the house accompanied, because the risk of losing yourself is very high.

8. How to take care of hygiene 

As the disease progresses, it is common for the patient to need help with hygiene, such as bathing, dressing, or styling, for example, because, in addition to forgetting to do so, he fails to recognize the function of objects and how to do each task.

Thus, for the patient to remain clean and comfortable, it is important to help him in his performance, showing how it is done so that he can repeat it. In addition, it is important to involve him in tasks, so that this moment does not cause confusion and generates aggression. See more at: How to care for a bedridden person .

9. How should the food be 

The patient with Alzheimer’s disease loses the ability to cook and gradually loses the ability to eat from his hand, in addition to having difficulty swallowing. Thus, the caregiver must:

  • Prepare meals that please the patient and do not give new foods to try;
  • Use a large napkin, like a bib,
  • Avoid talking during the meal so as not to distract the patient;
  • Explain what you are eating and what the objects are for, fork, glass, knife, if the patient refuses to eat;
  • Do not upset the patient if he does not want to eat or if he wants to eat with his hand, to avoid moments of aggression.

In addition, it may be necessary to make a diet indicated by a nutritionist, in order to avoid malnutrition and, in the case of swallowing problems, it may be necessary to eat a soft diet. Read more at: What to eat when I can’t chew.

10. What to do when the patient is aggressive

Aggressiveness is a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, manifesting itself through verbal threats, physical violence and destruction of objects.

Usually, the aggressiveness arises because the patient does not understand the orders, does not recognize people and, sometimes, because he feels frustration when he realizes the loss of his abilities and, in those moments, the caregiver must remain calm, looking for:

  • Do not discuss or criticize the patient , devaluing the situation and speaking calmly;
  • Do not touch the person when he is aggressive;
  • Do not show fear or anxiety when the patient is aggressive;
  • Avoid giving orders , even if simple during that moment;
  • Remove objects that can be thrown in the vicinity of the patient;
  • Change the subject and encourage the patient to do something they like, such as reading the newspaper, for example, in order to forget what caused the aggression.

Generally, the moments of aggression are quick and fleeting and, normally, the patient with Alzheimer’s disease does not remember the event.

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