When a close friend or family member is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease,it can feel incredibly overwhelming. If you are not careful, your own mental health and wellbeing will inevitably begin to suffer.As important as it is to be as present and as helpful as you possibly can be for your loved one, you must look after yourself and your own needs, and if you can no longer do both successfully, it may be time to consider other options.
When you know the ways to care for yourself, your next task is to fully understand everything there is about how to care for your loved one. With this in mind, here are six frequently asked questions that are commonly asked when caring for a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
1. How do I deal with hesitancy and refusal to use the toilet?
One of the more common stumbling blocks when caring for a loved one who is living with a memory-based degenerative illness such as Alzheimer’s is when the patient starts to show a distinct lack of desire or ability to use the toilet and instead starts to defecate or urinate where they are sitting.
There are several potential solutions to this problem, and, often, the reason why your loved one is refusing to use the bathroom could simply come down to them not being able to differentiate between rooms and, more specifically, between the toilet and the sink. Try changing the toilet seat to a brightly colored one or, if the majority of the bathroom is white, a black seat. Alzheimer’s can affect the quality and breadth of a person’s vision, so on the floor, ensure there is a large bathroom mat at the entrance to the room. Your loved one will be far more likely to enter the bathroom if the floor resembles carpet rather than laminate.
2. Why do they become distressed and agitated when someone visits?
When suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, every sense and sound is significantly amplified, and, as a result, your loved one may feel overwhelmed and not in control when there is more than one person in the room at a time. When friends and other family members come to the house, ensure there is only themselves and your loved one in the room, and be sure to close all the windows and turn off other distractions like the radio and television. Making the room as quiet as possible will potentially remove some of the anxiety and even panic your loved one feels when receiving visitors.
3. How do I encourage movement and get them to walk unaided?
One of the more common side effects of Alzheimer’s disease is a sense of painful, needle-like pricks in the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand, and this may be part of the reason why your loved one prefers to remain seated throughout the day.
When encouraging your loved one to stand and to walk from one room to another, let them do so at entirely their own pace and, if they complain of pain, start small with standing and sitting straight back down. Be as patient as humanly possible and, if they complain or become distressed, never force the issue and simply try again in an hour or so.
4. How do I make them eat without physically forcing them?
Never physically force your loved one to eat, as this will only make them associate mealtimes with pain and physical pressure. Instead, whenever it is time for a meal, sit very close to them without actually invading their personal space and eat your food while sitting with them. Obviously, when it comes to eating, if your loved one continually refuses to eat anything at all, it is strongly advised that you contact their medical doctor and ask them for help. As with any older adult, muscle mass is important for the healthy function of the body and, in persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, it is even more important to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
5. How can I encourage them to take their medication?
Again, as with a disinterest in and a total refusal to eat, it is vital to contact the doctor if your loved one refuses to take their medication, even for just one day and night, as this could have serious negative effects on their overall health.
Independence is something that you must at least maintain the illusion of, and continually pushing for them to ingest something they do not want to is counter-productive. Instead, try leaving their medication for that morning next to a glass of water in their eyeline and check to see if they have indeed taken it or whether you need to call the doctor to ask for help. If they continuously refuse their medication, it may be time to consider moving them to a professional and established memory care facility in Sunnyvale, where trained professionals can assist them in their daily life as much or as little as needed.
6. How can I make sure they have a better night’s sleep?
One of the most traumatic and counter-productive symptomsis a severe disruption in their sleep cycle, and often, they awake in the middle of the night and struggle to go back to sleep.
The best way to try and get them a better night’s sleep is to show them the time and attempt to make them aware that, for example, when they wake up at three in the morning, it is dark outside, and the time on the clock is that of the middle of the night. Additionally, if your loved one attempts to sleep throughout the entirety of the day, it is best to encourage them to stay awake to help them retain a semblance of a normal sleeping pattern. Give your loved one snacks to eat that you know they enjoy, and sit down together with a jigsaw puzzle or walk together in the garden to keep them awake.