If you live with an older adult, you may find yourself caring for someone with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia, but there are many others. They may have similar symptoms, such as the following.
- Memory loss leading to forgetting people, events, and places.
- Trouble carrying out lengthy tasks, such as cooking from a recipe or writing an email.
- Mood swings, which can include anger or depression.
- Lack of adequate personal care, such as personal hygiene.
Caring for patients with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia is difficult, especially because of the long-term and progressive nature of dementia. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier and possibly slow the condition’s progression.
Get Medical Care
Make an appointment with a physician as soon as you notice symptoms of dementia. The doctor may be able to find a treatable cause of dementia, such as side effects of medication, vitamin B12 deficiency, or hypothyroidism. If not, the doctor can provide advice for maintaining independence for as long as possible. Medications to control mood can also help sometimes.
Watch for Good Nutrition
Good nutrition can help patients with dementia maintain their health for longer, but obstacles include forgetting to eat meals, trouble preparing meals, or difficulty in obtaining food if the patient is unable to drive. Caregivers can provide a nutritious diet to support health.
- A balance of foods from each food group, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Low-fat, low-sodium, and low-sugar options.
- Plenty of fluid, unless restricted due to another medical condition.
Plan for the Future
Thinking about the future can be difficult when you are caring for patients with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, but planning ahead now can make things easier down the road. In addition to planning to see the doctor every few months to monitor the condition, you can consider long-term care options, such as placing your loved one in a nursing home with a dementia unit.