8 Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers

According to the National Alzheimer's Association, more than 10 million Americans are currently caring for a relative with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Although the task can be challenging and even overwhelming at times, there are things you can do to ease the process. Keep these tips in mind when caring for your loved one:

Take time to grieve

It's normal to grieve for the loss of the person your loved one used to be. Remember that even though your loved one is still physically there, a loss has taken place.

Make a schedule

Determine the time of day when your loved one is the calmest and most agreeable. Schedule the most difficult tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, for that time period. Established routines can help make the day more predictable and less confusing.

Create a safe environment

Remove throw rugs, extension cords, or other clutter that may cause your loved one to trip and fall. Install locks on cabinets that contain potentially dangerous items, such as guns, medication, alcohol, and sharp utensils. Keep a fire extinguisher, working smoke alarms, and a first-aid kit easily accessible.

Let him or her help

Involve your loved one in tasks as much as possible. Alzheimer's patients might enjoy dressing themselves if the clothes are laid out in the order they need to go on.

Limit choices

Having fewer options makes decision-making easier. For example, provide two outfits to choose between, instead of a closet full of clothes. Minimize distractions at mealtimes or during conversations so that your loved one can focus on one thing at a time.

Make communication easier

Address your loved one by name, talk slowly and clearly, and use familiar words and short sentences.

Allow ample time

Expect things to take longer than they used to. Allow additional time to complete even simple tasks so that tasks aren't rushed and stressful. Provide simple instructions one step at a time.

Take time off

Schedule regular breaks, and make time to get out of the house. Friends may be able to assist with home care, or consider placing your loved one in eldercare a few times a week.