Alzheimer’s care at any stage can be difficult, but as the condition worsens, the disease transitions from merely mental to far more physical. People’s minds can no longer tell them how to do some of the most simple tasks, leaving their bodies immobile and weak. And that’s when care has to transition too; caregivers have to learn to handle the physical difficulties the Alzheimer’s patient faces along with the mental ones.
For those who care for someone with late-stage dementia or another disease, we’ve compiled a list of common problems and what you can do to help keep the Alzheimer’s sufferer comfortable during their last days of life. We hope these tips will not only make things easier for the person you care for but also for you.
Here are some things to watch out for:
8. Foot problems
Foot problems often plague elderly people, and Alzheimer’s patients are no different. As the person begins to struggle more and more with getting around, make sure their feet are properly taken care of, including regular baths and nail trimmings. Follow baths with a quick check-up to find any cuts, sores, or corns that need to be treated, and then put on lotion to avoid dryness and cracking. Do your best to keep their feet dry and warm throughout the course of the day. Having the patient stay active for as long as possible will also increase circulation and overall foot health.
7. skin problems
As we age, our skin becomes more thin and frail. Older people, Alzheimer’s patients included, are prone to bruising, chafing, lacerations, sores, growths, and other skin ailments and irritations. Be sure to bathe the person regularly, but be careful about the products you use on a loved one’s sensitive skin. If you find any injuries, treat them promptly and properly to avoid further complications.
Another skin problem that often plagues the elderly is bedsores. Because people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s are not usually very mobile, they can easily get sores on their bodies from being left in one place for too long. Make sure you help the person get into a different position every hour or so to avoid this. Special mattresses and seat cushions are also available to help with this issue. If you find bedsores, talk to the person’s doctor about how to treat them, and try to keep the person from lying or sitting on the affected areas.
People with Alzheimer’s often suffer from tremors that cause them to be unable to perform simple tasks like eating and writing. If the person’s medication is not helping (or if they are not able to be on a medication for it for whatever reason), you may need to help steady the person more often or complete tasks like writing for them. Above all, be patient with a person who suffers from this shakiness and remember that they’re doing the best they can. Myoclonus, a more severe jerking of the body that looks similar to a seizure, is something you should discuss with a doctor if you see it happening. The doctor may be able to prescribe a medication to help with jerking and trembling.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?