The National Institute on Aging estimates that close to five million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease. While many elderly patients with Alzheimer's are capable of remaining with family members or living in residential care facilities, many end up needing medical care and require short- or long-term stays in nursing homes. Nursing homes offer round-the-clock medical care for patients suffering from health issues like Alzheimer's. Note, however, that not all of these facilities are specially adapted to accommodate patients with dementia. In order to make your family member feel at home in a care facility, it may be helpful to follow a few basic guidelines. |
First, visit often. Make announced and unannounced visits, as having company is great for Alzheimer's patients. Spending quality time with your loved one can help improve your outlook as well as theirs. In addition, check in with nurses and caregivers, and work with them to resolve any issues.
Frequent visits are also important to our second guideline: keep your loved one active. While their activity may be restricted due to physical limitations and cognitive impairments, frequent activity has been shown to keep the mind and body sharp. If recent memories are slipping away, older memories may be becoming stronger. It is possible that your loved one may be more adept at using skills they had when they were younger, such as knitting or shining their shoes. This may be a great time to find out more about what they were like as young adults or children. Try to pick safe activities that stimulate the brain and body as much as possible. Give them the chance to use their remaining abilities. If they are capable of doing certain activities independently, encourage them to do so.
Unfortunately, sometimes the most helpful activity may be no activity at all. This brings us to guideline number three. Dementia can be unpredictable, so expect the unexpected. Mood and abilities can change drastically throughout the day so that an activity that was enjoyable and positive one day will be frustrating the next. If sitting and sipping tea is all they are up for, it may be the best activity for that time. A morning visit on a Tuesday may be pleasant, while a morning visit two days later will result in hostility. Frequent visits may help you identify the best times for interactions. As a caregiver, you may already be aware of these common patterns, but be prepared for those patterns to change.
In short, visit often, interact as much as possible, and be prepared for changes. Most importantly, spend time loving those who have spent time loving you. It is not easy watching someone you love slip away, but if you are lucky, you may get a chance to look into their lives with them as they look backward. Enjoy special moments, and use these guidelines to help keep your loved one as comfortable as possible.
When it comes to nursing homes, Wayne County, MI residents can learn more by visiting http://www.crystalcreekassistedliving.com/.
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