Dealing with the aftermath of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is beyond difficult for all involved. Despite the difference in the trajectory of those who are diagnosed, the journey ahead holds major changes that are often emotive and altogether impactful in varying degrees. To ease the burden for loved ones, there are ways of staying consistent to combat the inevitable anxiety. Here are five ways to handle the stress that may set in after the initial shock wears off.
Keep a Routine
Alzheimer’s disease primarily affects memory and cognitive function. Eventually, everything that once came so easily will be a struggle. Lots of basic functions are affected such as eating, thinking, remembering, conversing, personal care, social capacity, and more, so the importance of maintaining a reliable routine is definitely at the top of the list. Short-term memory in particular is heavily impacted the further along the patient is in their diagnosis, which often leads to a need for displacement. Whether it is care home facilities or living with a family member, the primary carers should strive for consistency. This could look like:
- Meals are served at the same time every day.
- No change in room layouts.
- Waking up and going to sleep at a similar hour every day.
- Clothes laid out every morning and night.
- Continuous TV and entertainment schedule.
Be Mindful of Dietary Requirements
Whether it is forgetting to eat or struggling with related symptoms such as dysphagia, food intake is often a major issue for patients in the later stages of the disease. Therefore, it is helpful to keep stress at bay by providing easier routes to eating. Dysphagia combative products like this gel thickener for liquids enable the patient to manage their diet with increased autonomy by easing up the process and reducing the associated discomfort, which may be acting as a barrier. When something is difficult and there is additional confusion as to why this skill that once came so naturally is now dwindling, finding tools to facilitate is the best route to providing comfort.
Handle Episodes With Authority and Compassion
Episodes of memory loss are one of the most stressful parts of this disease. They cause increased levels of confusion, anxiety, despair, and physical decline too. So, when there is a particularly distressing incident, ensure that the loved one is met with compassion above all else. Show them that you are with them, in control, and there to meet the needs of the moment.
Do Not Change the Way You Communicate
The worst habit to adopt is a patronizing tone. While it may come naturally, it is in fact counterintuitive. There is no reason to stop conversing as normal with an Alzheimer’s patient, despite what our instincts might guide us towards.
Provide Personal Care
Ensure comfort is maintained on all levels, including personal care. A lack of personal hygiene often sets in down the line, which can be stressful and cause further discomfort. Provide a method for managing aspects of bathing, clean clothes, and regular grooming.
Alzheimer’s is never easy, and it brings with it a natural, strong emotional response. Managing the anxiety aspect is essential.