What is Alzheimers?
Each of us has a tendency to forget things. This can range from misplacing the house keys to missing the last date for phone, electricity or credit card bills to be paid. However a severe loss of memory and cognition, together called dementia, can create havoc in a person’s life and turn their whole world upside down. Alzheimers Disease is the most common form of Dementia and primarily affects the elderly.
Causes & Statistics of Alzheimers
Small cognitive impairments, poor short term memory etc. can happen normally to many elderly people as part of aging. This is not dangerous and is considered normal. But dementia, on the other hand, describes two or more types of symptoms that are severe enough to cause disturbances in a person’s Activities of Daily Living (ADL). In addition to Alzheimers disease, dementia can also be caused by head injury, stroke, brain tumours, etc. Over the age of 80, more than 20% of people have mild dementia. In India currently over 3 million people suffer from dementia and in about 20 years, this number is expected to double thanks to increasing life expectancy and the ability to better identify the prevalence of the disease among patients in large areas of our country.
Tips to deal with a patient suffering from Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease can be a challenging journey not only for the person diagnosed but also for their family members and loved ones. Caring for someone with Alzheimers can seem overwhelming at times, but the more information and support you have, the better you can navigate the demanding road ahead and determine the long-term care options that are best suited to you and your loved ones.
Caring for an elder with Alzheimers is undoubtedly a challenging task. While the patient is in the process of getting used to this health condition, he/she experiences a mix of emotions such as anger, anxiety, shock etc. It is of utmost importance to make sure the patient is always supervised to keep him/her away from any kind of discomfort or adverse event.
In addition, adhering to a general daily routine in Alzheimers care helps caregiving run smoothly. It is obvious that every family will have a separate routine, but some factors that could be followed to ensure the Alzheimers patient is comfortable at all times are listed below. While the Alzheimers disease has no cure, following certain basic tips will help the patient as well as the patient’s family better cope with the condition.
- Try and maintain constant timings for day-to-day activities such as waking, meal time, recreation and bedtime. Abiding by a specific routine everyday will help the patient stay oriented and get a sense of time.
- Try and create cues for the patient to indicate what he/she should be doing at a given time. Eg. You could hand over a newspaper to the patient once he/she wakes up to point out its morning, make the patient watch a particular TV show to indicate meal times and play some peaceful music to point out its time for bed.
- Also, make sure the patient is part of every activity that takes place in the house. These may include family gatherings, outings and even minor things like gardening, watching a movie with the entire family etc., just to make the patient feel loved and cared.
- Try to conduct memory games with the patient. This helps the brain of the patient to function. As part of brain exercise, the patient can be asked to recollect simple things like the home address, names of his / her grand children etc.
Newer and better designed models of healthcare are being introduced in India to cater to expanding requirements. In-home healthcare facilities also help in assisting patients and their families to provide basic medical and supportive care in the comfort of their homes. Doctors, nurses, nursing attendants and physiotherapists visit the patient periodically at home and medical equipment, diagnostic services and medicines can be provided at the patients’ doorstep; these are some of the services a competent home care provider provides and this is certainly a credible option to consider to ensure your loved one is cared for at all times.
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