How to recognize a patient who may have Alzheimer’s
You may notice your Mom or Dad is frequently forgetting new information, getting confused with normal everyday functions, becoming overly suspicious or confused, afraid, or dependent, or a lack of interest in usual activities, unusual bouts of anger, or rapid mood swings. Below are some tips of how to properly care for a loved one that has suffered with Alzheimer’s for years, newly diagnosed, or you are seeing signs and symptoms for the first time.
1. It is very important to keep the patient mentally stimulated. Speak to them about the news or what’s on T.V, play card games, Scrabble, cross word puzzles, word search, etc. Ask him/her questions and keep them thinking.
2. Have them exercise and keep them active! It can be very helpful to take them for walks, picnics to the park, window shopping, or simply have them show you things around their home. Invite them to join you in the kitchen, give them something they can help you with. Have them help you set out food for a meal, put groceries away, help you set the table, and fold laundry. Assisting you with small simple tasks is good for them and also they feel good about themselves and feel important.
3. A well balanced meal is very important for mental health. This helps the brain and it is very vital for Alzheimer’s patients to have nourishment. For Example – Dinner should include items like: chicken, veggies and a bread roll. After they eat a good portion then provide them with a dessert as well. Make them snacks such as: cheese & and crackers, veggies and fruit with peanut butter, fruit, veggies and dip, etc. Even at the point where the patient cant swallow well, we must puree the food, provide a drink called Ensure (liquid diet) but should only be used as a supplement when swallowing is impossible.
Lastly, an important tip for your Alzheimer’s patient is: you can’t and shouldn’t try reasoning with them.
When your loved one becomes frustrated, the first thing to is try to distract and redirect him/her if they become fixated on a certain thing. For example, if your Dad is asking where his wife is when we know she’s passed some time ago, trying to prove to him that his wife passed is not the answer. You can’t reason with someone who has Alzheimer’s. You must resolve the issue if you already tried redirection and distraction. One time, I had a client that I had experienced this situation with and the caregivers were trying to tell him his wife had passed, I simply spoke with him and said “Mr. Jones, I just spoke with your wife and she said she is visiting her sister and said she missed you and will be home soon. Mr. Jones was completely satisfied with that answer and didn’t bring the subject up again. Instead of arguing, I addressed the issue and solved it for him.
We are committed to providing the best care here at Total Care Connections. Education is the first step and that is our first priority.
Author: Lisa Romero, Care Director, Total Care Connections