The approach to taking care of a person with Alzheimer's disease depends on his or her symptoms and the progression of the disease. These factors help to determine how much and what types of assistance are needed for the person and his or her family.
The Oscar-nominated movie Away from Her portrays a long-married couple struggling with Alzheimer's disease and the emotional toll it causes when the wife, played by actress Julie Christie, gives her affection to another man whom she meets in a nursing home.
This heart-wrenching and emotional dramatization of Alzheimer's brings home the difficulties families face when a person's ability to recognize and maintain relationships gradually declines -- especially when the relationship is between a husband...
Plan daily activities to help provide structure, meaning, and a sense of accomplishment for the person with Alzheimer's. It is always best to establish a routine with which the person can become familiar.
Choose the best times to do activities according to the part of the day when the person is usually at his/her best.
As functions are lost, adapt activities and routines to allow the person with Alzheimer's to participate as much as possible.
Keep activities familiar and satisfying, and keep instructions simple.
Allow the person with Alzheimer's to complete as many things as possible by him/herself, even if you have to initiate the activity.
Provide "cues" for desired behavior. For example, if you label a drawer according to what it should contain, the person is more likely to put things in the correct place.
Keep the individual with Alzheimer's out of harm's way by removing things that could endanger them. For example, hide the car keys and matches. Also try to keep the environment safe. Remember: What appears safe to you may not be safe for a person with Alzheimer's.
As a caregiver, it is important to understand and act according to your own physical and emotional limitations. Be sure to take care of yourself, and allow yourself periods of rest and relaxation.