Alzheimer’s: Answers to Common Questions
2. I'm thinking about taking a trip with my father, who has Alzheimer's. How can I make it easier for both of us?
Plan ahead. Think about his needs so you'll be ready for any changes or problems. You can try taking a short trip first to see how he reacts to traveling. A few other tips:
- Give him simple, relaxing things to do when you’re traveling. He could read a magazine, play with a deck of cards, or listen to music, for examples.
- Never leave a person with dementia alone in a car. When moving, keep his seat belt buckled and the doors locked.
- If he gets agitated during the trip, stop at the first place you can. Don't try to calm him while you’re driving.
- Think about going on vacation somewhere that’s familiar to him -- like at a lake cabin he’s visited in the past, for example.
- If he gets flustered easily, it may be wise to avoid places that are crowded. You may also want to skip fast-paced sightseeing trips.
- If he’s never been on a plane, it may a good idea to drive instead, if possible.
- Alert the airlines and hotel staff that you’re traveling with a relative who is memory-impaired. Make sure he carries or wears some sort of identification.
- Enjoy your time with your dad, but try to find time to relax, too. It may help to bring someone along who can help you with caregiving tasks.
3. I'm having trouble getting my loved one to eat. What can I do?
Her Alzheimer’s symptoms can make it harder for her to get enough to eat. She might have trouble knowing when she’s hungry or thirsty, have problems eating or swallowing, have a hard time using silverware, or feel depressed. Try some of these tips:
- Talk to your loved one's doctor. He may be able to help if she’s not eating because of a treatable problem, like depression.
- Don't force her to eat. If she’s not interested in food, try to find out why.
- Focus on serving more nutritious choices, like protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, and less salt and sugar.
- Offer smaller meals more often instead of three large ones.
- Encourage her to walk, garden, or do other things that get her moving to boost her appetite.
- Serve finger foods that are easier for her to handle and eat.
- Make eating fun, not a chore. For example, liven up your meals with colorful place settings, or play background music.
- Try not to let your loved one eat alone. If you can’t eat with her, invite a guest.