Hearing the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be hard to take in not only for the patient but the whole family as well. Who will be delighted to hear that they will slowly lose their memory and abilities to perform daily tasks or routines? Family members would be devastated to hear that a loved one might need care and assistance in their day to day life and most of all, it might be possible that the person with Alzheimer’s wouldn’t be able to identify his/her family circle. Alzheimer’s disease will bring forth emotions such as anger, depression, frustration, hopelessness, and fear. Since there’s no cure for the disease, the management of the disorder is multifaceted. It can include several modalities: environment, exercise, diet, and medication. Due to the progression of the disease, treatment plans might change accordingly depending on the stages of Alzheimer’s where the patient is currently experiencing.
It is vital to provide a familiar and safe environment for Alzheimer’s patients since it will reduce risks and incidence of accidents like hits and bumps on the furniture, slips and falls and hazardous materials such as stoves, matches, etc. Place everyday objects in areas where they are accessible for the patient to find. It is best to place them in one location, possibly a table near the door or a basket in the living room. Keeping keys, mobile phones, and wallets together in an easy to remember place will result in less time and a less challenging task of living in the house without forgetting daily essentials. Investing in a tracking device or mobile application will give other family members a sense of peace of mind just in case the patient gets lost or confused. It is best to position familiar objects like family memorabilia, photographs and souvenirs around the house to promote memory.
Exercise is known and tested to improve a person’s wellbeing. It can help with overall health, combat stress, help in falling asleep and improve mood. A walk around the garden or gentle cycling on a stationary bike might be helpful to improve the body’s blood circulation and muscle strength. “There are many examples of physical activity that range in levels of intensity from light to vigorous. Maintaining your physical health can include yoga, bike riding, jumping rope, engaging in sports, running, walking, jogging, skiing, dancing, tennis, and gardening.” Marjie L. Roddick, MA, NCC, LMHC said.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease might forget to eat and drink and may develop difficulty in preparing their food. Prepare healthy and filling snacks in the fridge or make calorie-rich smoothies to ensure they are achieving their daily caloric intake. As John M. Grohol, Psy.D. explains, “A balanced diet that includes lots of fiber helps keep your gut system running efficiently by helping to support a more diverse gut microbiome.” Also, make sure that prepared food is easy to chew and digest. Provide an ample amount of water or juice throughout the day. However, limit caffeinated drinks and increasing intake during nighttime to avoid disruption of sleep.
There are various medications utilized in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. This includes cholinesterase inhibitors, which function by boosting the communication of brain cells and meantime, which slows down the progression of disease symptoms. Take note – these medications will always have side effects: sleep disturbance, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, headache, dizziness, and low heart rate. Be aware of the possible symptoms of medications such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. But note that “It’s important to underscore here the importance of monitoring your mental health and knowing how different medications and lifestyle changes can impact your mental health.” Julia Hogan, LCPC said.
Family members, as well as the patient with Alzheimer’s, should work hand in hand to show solidarity in times of suffering and pain. Taking care of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease will require lots of patience and assistance from each other. Thus, it is best for the family to function well as a team.