4. Trouble swallowing
People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often forget how to swallow or struggle to swallow for a variety of reasons. Cut food into smaller pieces, serve cold drinks rather than hot drinks, and avoid the use of straws to help patients swallow. You can also encourage swallowing by a simple verbal reminder or gently touching the person’s throat area, as though to remind them where the appropriate muscles are. If the person you care for has trouble swallowing, make sure they’re getting enough fluids and watch out for signs of dehydration or malnutrition.
3. Trouble eating
Even if the person you’re caring for has not forgotten how to swallow, they may often forget how much they’ve eaten or drunk that day, which could cause them to skip meals and become dehydrated and malnourished. It’s important to have a feeding routine to make sure they’re getting enough fluids and nutrients. Encourage the person to feed themselves, but be willing to step in when necessary to avoid major spills or intense frustration if the person is struggling.
2. Trouble staying comfortable
Aging, with or without a disease like Alzheimer’s, is an uncomfortable thing, simple as that. But there are a few things you can do to keep patients a little bit more comfortable. Special mattresses, seat cushions, and lap boards all help patients stay comfortable while seated or lying down. Make sure there’s always a blanket around in case the person is too cold, but check for sweating or flushing and remove blankets if you see these signs of overheating. Moving the person often can also help with comfort. Above all, listen to the patient when he or she makes a request, and try asking if there’s anything you can do to make them more comfortable.
1. Trouble staying mobile
As an Alzheimer’s patient continues to have less memory of how to perform simple daily tasks, standing and walking may be on the list of things that become difficult to do. Alzheimer’s patients often lose much of their sense of balance as well, which makes walking hard even if they can remember how to do it. It’s important to take safety precautions to prevent falls and injuries, but it’s also important for Alzheimer’s patients to stay as active as possible for as long as possible. Even if the person is not capable of getting out of bed on their own, manually (and carefully) move and stretch their limbs as often as possible to keep them from getting stiff and achy. When moving a patient from one place to another, give them a cloth or some other item to hang onto, minimizing the risk of them grabbing onto you or a piece of furniture and making it difficult to move them.
We hope these 8 tips have helped you learn how to give better care to the Alzheimer’s patient you care for and given you a little bit of much-needed peace of mind. We appreciate all the great things you do! Keep it up!
Do you have other tips for how to make life more comfortable and easy for late-stage Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Want more caregiving tips? Click “next” below to read about what to do when an Alzheimer’s patient refuses to bathe or is scared of bathing.
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