Alzheimer’s Disease, What’s Next?

by Mahala Church

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, upsets both the patient and the family members. The disease has multiple stages, and people progress through the stages at different rates. There is no cure, but there are choices that make life more pleasant for the patient and the family.  Alzheimer’s disease changes brain functions including thought, memory, and behavior. A person’s ability to make sound judgments is altered; problems with language skills develop, and, in some cases, the personality changes. Many families opt to keep their loved one at home, but sometimes a facility skilled in providing compassionate Alzheimer’s or dementia care such as an assisted living community may be wiser.

How Can I Keep My Loved One At Home?

Safety and dignity are the touchstones for managing dementia.  The obvious first step is the physical environment. Remove slippery rugs, wobbly furniture, and fire hazards. Similar to childproofing, make sure cleaning supplies, scissors, and sharp knives aren’t accessible. Garbage disposals should be disconnected. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease tend to wander at night, so gates over stairwells and locking doors to other rooms may be necessary. Memory loss can elevate anxiety and confusion, so creating a safe pathway throughout the house that allows them to wander safely from room to room is helpful.

Giving some attention to accident prevention will help a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia maintain independence and decrease frustration all around.

Safety Precautions for Those With Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Put colorful stickers on sliding glass doors, glass shower doors, and windowpanes prevents them from walking into clear glass.
  • Use child-resistant knobs on cabinet doors are also helpful.
  • Teach the senior with Alzheimer’s disease a color code. For example, red means stop, which points them in the right direction and can prevent accidents.
  • Label the edges of steps with brightly colored tape to identify the edges and prevent falls.
  • Keep keys to vehicles locked away to prevent them driving.
  • Change the sounds and decibels on phones, answering machines, doorbells, alarm clocks, and timers as needed. Loud sounds may cause bewilderment.

Why Should I Move My Loved One to a Memory Care Facility?

Facilities that specialize in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are familiar with the stages of the disease and how best to promote independence at each. They use the safety precautions listed above to better care for the residents. There are definitely some benefits from moving into a community that offers memory care.

  • They use color-coding for doorways, handrails, and walkways, memory care facilities maintain a structured environment for activities and exercise.
  • Alzheimer’s patients function better in an organized setting with daily schedules for meals, bathing, resting, and socializing. Communities offer an activities schedule for its residents, meals three times a day and staff members to help residents get to bed and around the community.
  • Seniors suffering from memory loss have a penchant for repetitive motions and may wipe a table or counter until the cloth is dry. Patience in dealing with those traits is part of the training for the staff in a memory care facility.
  • Easily upset, some AD persons can become violent. Alzheimer’s facilities have the staff and expertise to calm and comfort them.
  • Recreation therapists, including music therapists, work well with Alzheimer’s disease patients at their cognitive level, enabling them to have fun without endangering themselves.
  • Alzheimer’s units are locked to prevent the residents from wandering while still being able to enjoy the campus and the grounds.  Many facilities have enclosed gardens or courtyards where residents can garden, take pleasure in pet therapy, and hit a few on the putting green.
  • Some memory care communities offer support groups for families help to deal with the numerous changes Alzheimer’s disease or dementia brings.

 

Want to learn more about Memory Care communities that specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia care? Call your local SeniorLiving.Net Care Advisor at (866) 662-0435 to find communities in your area and get a better understanding of what the positives are to moving your loved one into a community.

Mahala Church is an editor and writer with extensive experience in healthcare management and nursing. Specializing in oncology nursing, she is a strong patient advocate. Her writing couples her degrees in liberal arts and nursing with her experience in business and healthcare to foster support for patient and family education.