There are many things to consider when a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They are not all immediate actions, but ones that need to be considered such as living options, financial and legal matters and the type of care and medical options available with the health insurance they have. Who will cover the transportation, care and feeding of the patient?
These are all highly emotional matters as well. Seeing a parent or spouse go through the disease and seeing the changes and damage it does will all be thing you must consider. Are you strong enough for it? Do you have a support network available to use if you have a hard time handling things? Do you have backup if you get sick and have to take time to care for yourself for a week or two?
The Alzheimer’s patient will benefit from an organized life and establishing a routine so they can function, and develop memory-strengthening habits. Always having meals at the same time, having a place for everything to be returned to, will all contribute to a familiar, safe and predictable life for the patient. Knowing that everything is going to be the same will give peace of mind to them and help them create a memory pathway. The doctor may even be able to make their medications into once a day dosing so that taking medicine is easier. You can simplify finances and utility payments by have automatic deposits and deductions as well. The more automatically things are done, the less work for the patient and the caretaker. Try and make regular doctor appointments on the same days, too.
Adapting life to conform to the patient, and not the other way around, will simplify the caretaking chores quite a bit. Taking steps will support the patient’s dignity and make them able to function as close to normal as possible. If you can make their mobile phone location capable, that will help if the patient starts to wander. A medic alert bracelet is a good idea as well, with your phone number to call in it.
Having a calendar or a whiteboard, with the daily schedule on it and checking off completed things will help the patient keep track of the day as it progresses. Even if they don’t remember, they can see that things were done and what they were. It will give a sense of “remembering” the day when they really can’t. Seeing the check marks will still help them see what they accomplished during the day. Giving them the quality of life and self confidence that they are still ok.
Remove any extra furniture or clutter. Take away throw rugs and make sure the patient wears secure shoes so they don’t have anything to trip over. Make sure there are study handrails on stairs and in the bathroom. Only keep a mirror in the bathroom, remove the others. Alzheimer’s patients get confused when seeing a face when they can’t remember that it is only a mirror on the wall.
Make sure the patient gets adequate exercise, perhaps take a walk with them or use a stationary bike if walking is out. Also make sure that they eat a nutritional diet and stress the protein. Muscles weaken when not used and the body can go into a decline if there isn’t enough protein for nutrition, especially if they forget to eat or lose interest in food throughout the day. Protein drinks make a healthy snack.
Make sure that the patient keeps up their social contacts as well. This alone is the most brain strengthening you can do for them. If they go to church or similar activities, keep taking them, as well as family functions. Everything you can do to help them do what they used to, within reason, will help their life go on as close to normal. They will benefit from it and your family as well.