People with Alzheimer’s disease gradually require more and more help meeting their basic needs. This loss of independence can be very difficult for your loved one. You can help him to feel some sense of control by encouraging him to use the capabilities he does have, respecting his privacy as much as possible and even thanking them for allowing you to help. Everyday Alzheimer’s care requires a great deal of patience and compassion.
Information for Caregivers on Bathing
Bathing can be embarrassing or even frightening for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one is uncomfortable about being naked, try to offer as much privacy as possible by drawing the shower curtain when she is bathing and offering a towel to cover up. Consider her bathing preferences; she may feel more comfortable in a shower than a bath. Certain times of the day may also be better for bathing. If your loved one continues to be anxious about bathing, you may want to consider giving her sponge baths instead.
Information for Caregivers on Dressing
Try limiting clothing options to just two outfits laid out on the bed. This gives your loved one a sense of control but doesn’t overwhelm him either. If he refuses to wear either of the outfits set out for him, help him find something else. If he wants to wear the same outfit everyday, consider buying multiples of the same outfit.
Information for Caregivers on Eating
Eating can be one of the biggest challenges in everyday Alzheimer’s care. You shouldn’t be surprised if your loved one exhibits disturbing behavior during meals, such as trying to eat non-food items or eating from other people’s plates. The following tips may help to minimize mealtime problems:
- Cool food to a lukewarm temperature before serving
- Eat regular meals at the same times everyday
- Keep the meal simple by serving one food item at a time
- Make mealtimes a fun social time she will look forward to
- Minimize accidents with non-slip dishes, large-handled utensils and a cup with a lid
- Turn off the TV, radio and any other distractions
- Use brightly colored dishes to provide a contrast between the food and the plate.
If you’re not sure if your loved one is eating enough, consult her doctor. There may be underlying issues causing eating problems, such as medication side effects, depression or constipation.
Toilet Care for Alzheimer’s Patients
Incontinence refers to the inability to control one’s bladder or bowels. Incontinence is a reality of everyday care for Alzheimer’s patients in the mid to late stages of the disease. You can help to decrease accidents by scheduling regular trips to the bathroom every couple of hours. Watch for signs (such as restlessness or pulling at clothing) that may indicate your loved one has to go to the bathroom and encourage his independence by choosing clothing that is easy to remove, such as pants with an elastic waist. When accidents do occur, be calm and reassuring.
Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.) Daily care. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_daily_care.asp.
Alzheimer’s Society (U.K.) (n.d.) Everyday care. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents.php?categoryID=200199.
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (n.d.) Modifying your home for Alzheimer’s disease patients. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-treatment-modifying.asp.
Lunde, A. (2009, August 4). Strategies for dementia caregiving. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dementia-caregiving/MY00812.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Alzheimer’s: Dealing with daily challenges. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AZ00026.
U.S. National Institutes of Health â€“ National Institute on Aging. (n.d.) Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease: Your easy-to-use guide from the National Institute on Aging. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/CaringAD/.