Coping with a Parent with Alzheimer’s Disease
Aging concerns a lot of changes, physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral. Often, the emotional and behavioral changes are referred to as elders’ second childhood, and being forgetful is just a normal part of the aging process. Without you knowing it, these changes could be the earlier signs of mental disease that should have been detected at an early stage. What would you do if your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? Would you send him to a nursing home or provide him with care in the comfort of your house? Whatever arrangement you decide for your loved one, he surely needs all the love, care, and understanding he can get, and you can only provide the necessary attention if you understand what the disease is all about and what changes might occur.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease in layman’s terms is a slowly progressive disease of the brain usually characterized by a decline in memory, comprehension, language, learning capacity, and judgment. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is incurable and progressive. The rate of progression varies depending on the elder’s condition.
How to Manage Elders with Alzheimer’s?
- Keeping a routine
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, your elder’s intellectual function is still reasonably preserved. This is the proper time to teach him daily routines including the time of getting up in the morning, toilet, exercise, and meals. This is very important because at the later stage, he could no longer grasp any sense of learning and he could not adapt to changes anymore. Only those previously established routines will likely be maintained.
The daily routine should also include a nutritious meal. It’s very important to maintain and establish a balanced diet only. Especially during the early stage, not only for his physical needs but there are cases in the later stage of Alzheimer’s where elders crave only one type of food and wouldn’t eat anything else.
Personal hygiene and toilet habits should also be well-established. You should keep a timetable of when to move bowels, bath, and brush his teeth as well as maintain a fixed interval when urinating.
- Keeping a friendly environment
Some elders with Alzheimer’s disease have abrupt changes in emotions and their mood swings can be unpredictable. You may be surprised to see your parents crying without any reason or laughing out loud at the simplest joke on TV. There are also cases when he would be very angry for petty reasons to the point that he would take off his clothes and get naked. The best thing you can do to control these or prevent unlikely situations from happening is to keep a calm environment within the house. It wouldn’t help ease the situation when you question him repeatedly. You can seek a doctor’s advice for medications just to calm your parents.
- Keeping the house safe
Most elders have less physical ability and mobility is always a concern among them. You may want to make your house amenable to your parent’s safety needs when he wants to move about by keeping the bathroom slip-free and removing items that could make him trip. Also, provide extra locking on the door because he might wander outside the house unnoticed and since one effect of Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of geographic location, he might not be able to find his way home.
If you’re living in a two-story house, your parents’ bedroom should be on the lower floor to prevent him from falling down the stairs and to lessen his mobility pressure of climbing.
Coping with a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is somehow physically and emotionally exhausting for you and your family that’s why it’s very important that the whole family accepts the situation and understands the disease and its underlying effects. All burdens will be lessened if everyone in the family joins hands in keeping your elderly feeling loved and cared for.
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