Alzheimer's Care: The Value of Structure and Routines

Alzheimer's Care: The Value of Structure and Routines

Caring for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s Disease and memory loss can be draining at times. A well-structured daily routine can do a lot to relieve stress, help your parent’s mind stay engaged, and build in regular breaks. Use the following ideas to adjust your daily care schedule in ways that helps both of you.

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Adjusting to change is hard emotional work, even for a person with full mental abilities. Your parent with dementia symptoms can feel like they are constantly bombarded with change. Boredom and a lack of focus can bring on feelings of anxiety. When your parent feels anxious, even simple things can become more difficult for both of you.

To lessen their stress, create a simple routine that works with your parent's personality and preferences. If you choose activities and patterns that suited them before the dementia symptoms began, you'll have more success helping them each day. A well-rounded routine can include necessary tasks, physical exercise, social opportunities, and one of their hobbies or personal interests. When you see your parent keeping their mind active and having enjoyable moments through the day, you’ll feel good too.

Build Breaks Into the Daily Dementia Care Routine

As a caregiver, you can also benefit from some planned breaks in the routine. Your parent needs activity to keep their mind and body stimulated, but they also need periods of rest. New mothers are often told to sleep when their baby sleeps. A similar recommendation could be made for adults doing dementia care for their parents. While it's tempting to scramble and get a lot done when your parent is resting or doing a quiet activity, you need the break as much as they do.

Create a little extra personal space between you and your parent for a while. Do a quiet activity with your parent that's relaxing for both of you. Let your mind wander away from your daily demands while you sip a cup of tea. Arrange for a few hours of respite care so you can spend some time on your own. No matter how you make it happen, caregiver stress relief is a critical part of giving Alzheimer's care. It's most effective when you build it right into the daily routine.

Establish Daily Structure Earlier for the Greatest Benefit

The earlier these routines are established, the better. As Alzheimer's disease advances, a person's ability to learn new things diminishes. If schedule changes are introduced when symptoms have become more severe, your parent may resist and struggle a lot more. Structure and routines won't prevent the disease from progressing. But they can help your parent make the most of their remaining healthy mind.

Structure is a good thing for both you and your aging parent. It reduces stress, gives your parent time for a variety of activities, and allows you to create breaks in the day. Take it slow and start building a good routine one step at a time. If you need help don’t hesitate to contact us.

Share some of the routines you use to help your parent with memory loss in our comment box below. How have they helped you as a caregiver?

Helping Them Through The Holiday Season

The holiday season can sometimes be stressful. If you are going to be providing Alzheimer’s care for your elderly family member during the holidays, it can become even more stressful and can often take a mental and emotional toll on you. However, the holidays can also be very stressful and confusing for the person who experiences the dementia that goes along with Alzheimer’s.

The holiday season is supposed to be a time when people come together and enjoy each other’s company. Here are some tips that can help the person providing senior care, as well as the elderly family member to enjoy the holidays.

Medication and Supply Checklist

The last thing you need to worry about is medications and supplies around the holidays. Make a checklist prior to enjoying the holidays with your elderly family member, especially if going away to visit friends or family. The checklist will help to keep things organized, and you can be sure that your family member will have all of the medications and supplies they need to make the holiday season go as smoothly as possible. It is very important that you do not wait until the last minute to do this, as it is sometimes difficult to get a hold of things you need immediately during the holidays.

Include Your Elderly Family Member in the Festivities

Watching your family member quietly sit in a corner during the holidays can be heartbreaking. You can avoid this by including them in the festivities. You can give them small tasks such as setting the table, putting presents under the tree, helping to prepare certain foods, or anything else they may be able to help with. However, it is important to remember not to give them anything that may be too much for them to handle stress free. You will need to be mindful of how advanced their Alzheimer’s disease is. For example, if your loved one has trouble remembering names, having them sign greeting cards may not be a good idea. It can make them feel confused, frustrated, and depressed, which will inevitably cause more of a problem.

Create a Suitable Environment for Them

One of the most important things to do when you are providing companion care for your family member during the holiday season, is to create an environment that will lessen stress. Have a quiet place for them to go and relax, prior to the holiday festivities. It’s best to choose a room they will recognize, and feel comfortable being in. If your loved one takes as needed medication for anxiety, it may be a good idea for them to take it before all of the holiday gathering commotions begin. Holiday excitement can sometimes become overwhelming for people with Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice your loved one becoming stressed or overwhelmed, bring them into the quiet room you have prepared, and suggest a nap. You can even play some calming, or familiar music to help lighten the tone of the environment for them.

Incorporate Familiar Holiday Traditions and Foods

Invoke holiday traditions that your loved one used to enjoy when they were younger. You can cook foods that are familiar to them, help them to tell stories of their past to the children, and anything else you can think of that they used to enjoy doing during the holiday season. You may be thinking, “Due to their loss of memory, is this really a good idea?” The answer is yes it is, and this is why: People with Alzheimer’s disease mostly have trouble with their short term memory. Their long term memory is often easier for them to recall. So, invoking past traditions and stories can help them to feel comfortable and involved. For people who are in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, it can help to remind them that they are surrounded by family and friends.

There will always be challenges when it comes to enjoying the holidays with a loved one going through Alzheimer’s. Especially because it is a disease that progresses through different stages, and it can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t do. Hopefully, these tips can help you and your loved one enjoy each other a little more during the holidays. Please contact us if you require help. We have a variety of services that can help you throughout the Holidays.

Have questions about our in-homecare services? Want to learn more? You may call us directly at (877) 365-2233 or contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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