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Supporting a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

There are many challenges for those supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease experience different phases and symptoms such as gradual loss of memory, reasoning, and judgment.

Alzheimer’s can also affect basic functioning of tasks (such as cooking or grooming) and personality or behavior changes. Dementia can be caused by a disease or traumatic brain injury that causes a group of symptoms related to memory loss, function and behavioral changes. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, however, there are many helpful ways to support your loved one by minimizing triggers and practicing prevention. When caring for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a healthy lifestyle and diet is highly encouraged. Consider normal exercise and increasing their intake of foods such as…

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish (salmon, tuna, anchovies, trout, mackerel), beans, and flax seeds.
  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Blueberries, goji, and acai.
  • Mediterranean Foods: Olive oil, fish, leafy green vegetables, and wine (in moderation).
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.
  • Foods that Maintain or Reduce Brain Inflammation: Spices (cinnamon, cumin), chocolate, and vanilla.

Limit stress, food, and drinks such as…

  • Alcohol
  • Cheese
  • Fast food
  • Red meat
  • Pastries or sweets high in sugar
  • Fried foods

A strong support system and communication is just as important as a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips to encourage and maintain a good relationship.

  • Network. It can be difficult when you are caring for your loved one alone. Networking with family, relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or even a home care agency can be helpful when you need a helping hand.
    Maintain daily routine. Expectations or knowing that certain activities will occur throughout the day is comforting.
  • Be patient. If your loved one has difficulty finishing sentences or completing a thought, allow them to take their time to finish. Avoid arguing or finishing their sentences too quickly. It can be encouraging for your loved one to complete it on their own!
  • Use eye contact. It can be an effective alternative to getting their attention.
  • Be gentle. Give advanced notice when you intend to touch your loved one. They may be sensitive to touch.
    Take advantage of redirection. Using distractions is a great way to help reduce frustration.
  • Be aware of your body language and tone. The way that you appear or sound can send signals that may affect how your loved one feels.
  • Keep them involved. Allow them to make decisions and never talk about them as if they were not there.
    Limit choices. Two-option or yes/ no answer questions are better to ask compared to open ended questions. For example, “Do you want to watch TV or go to bed?” instead of “What do you want to do now?”
  • Maintain a clean and safe environment. For example, prevent falls by removing carpet with fringe or consider adding a mat and grips in the shower.
  • Take breaks. If you find yourself frustrated, take a break and come back with a calm mindset.
    Be sensitive. Sensitivity is key! Comfort and encourage your loved one. Small cues make a huge difference.

Home care is a great option for families who are supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Be sure to read more about In-Home Senior Care 101: 4 Common Questions to learn how you can expand and strengthen your support network.

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Hopeton Care is a reliable 24/7 New York senior home care agency. We offer various medical and non-medical home care services from home health aides, personal care aides, and nursing to rehabilitative services.

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