How to Help a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that usually occurs in older adults and affects millions of people all over the world. As it advances, it becomes increasingly difficult for those who live with it to lead an independent life. Therefore, it is essential that we know how to help our loved ones if they ever become afflicted with this disease.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative illness that progressively affects memory, thinking, and the ability to perform daily tasks. It is the most common form of dementia and usually occurs in people over 65 years old, though it may also affect younger individuals.

The main symptom of Alzheimer’s is short-term memory loss. Over time, those affected may experience hindered ability to communicate, recognize loved ones, and perform daily activities. The disease can be emotionally challenging, both for the patient and their loved ones, and will require making adjustments to the environment and daily routines.

The Essential Role of a Primary Care Physician

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, their primary care physician (PCP) is an invaluable ally during all stages of the disease since they will provide regular follow-ups to monitor disease progression and make any necessary adjustments. 

The PCP can also advise and educate both the patient and their caregivers. This entails providing information about the disease, treatment options, symptom management, and tips for preserving a quality of life.

The PCP will work in collaboration with other specialists to coordinate the provision of care and bring a comprehensive perspective to the management of Alzheimer’s. This can include referrals to assistance services and support groups.

How to Care for an Alzheimer’s Patient

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is not an easy task, especially when the patient is a loved one. Here are some recommendations to help caregivers in this challenging duty:

  • It is important for caregivers to become better informed about Alzheimer’s and understand how the disease affects their loved ones. This will help them provide the appropriate support and adapt as the disease progresses.
  • Avoid overprotecting the patient. If we keep them from performing the tasks they can still do on their own, they may get frustrated and even isolate themselves. Furthermore, refraining from engaging in certain tasks will make the disease advance faster.
  • It is essential to be clear and gentle when communicating with the patient. Use simple, concise language and allow extra time for the person to process the information and respond.
  • Establishing routines and structures can provide a sense of security and familiarity for those who live with Alzheimer’s. Try to establish regular schedules for activities such as meals, rest, and recreation.
  • As the disease progresses, it is important to take steps to ensure safety in the home, such as removing dangerous objects, installing handrails, and using monitoring systems.
  • No less important: caregivers must take care of themselves as well. Seek emotional support through therapy or support groups, keep a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and make sure you get enough rest.

Alzheimer’s can be challenging for those who live with it as well as for their loved ones. But with the appropriate support and the use of the best practices of care, it is possible to provide the patient with an improved quality of life. 

If a family member or close friend is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, do not hesitate to see a doctor as soon as possible. Up to 40% of dementia cases can be prevented or delayed with proper care and assistance. The specialists and Imaging Centers at Salus are available to help you. Make an appointment online or by calling 787.789.1996.

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