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Caring for Those Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease

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January is a time to reflect upon the past year, and look forward to the year ahead. January is also Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Not only are Alzheimer’s patients affected by this degenerative disease, but their family members and close friends are often left feeling helpless, not knowing how to cope or take care of their loved ones.

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Alzheimer’s is a hard, life-changing disease that weighs heavily on those affected, as it slowly attacks their mind and body. At first, memory loss is common, but eventually stranger, out-of-character instances start to become normality, such as emotional outbursts, depression, dementia, wandering and odd behaviour.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, the most common symptoms of the disease are:

  • Memory Loss: Retaining short-term memory is more difficult or completely impaired.
  • Impaired Executive Functioning: The inability to organize, plan, and carry out a set of tasks in an efficient manner. For more information on executive functioning, click here.
  • Speech Problems: Forgetting words or confusing the meaning of words.
  • Misplacing Objects: More than just forgetting one’s glasses that are sitting on their head, this chronic forgetfulness can be both frustrating and confusing.
  • Mood and Behavioural Changes: Mood swings, suspicious thinking, anger, violence, etc.
  • Loss of Interest: Retreating from friends, family and hobbies that were previously enjoyed.

For more details about Alzheimer’s symptoms, read the full article from Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

What Can You Do to Help?

Senior man sitting on bench with book looking at the water and mountains

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a difficult and stressful task, but it’s important to remember that you need just as much support as the Alzheimer’s patient. Without taking care of your own needs, you may find yourself running into stressful situations down the road.

If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, here are 3 important things to remember:

1. Learn About the Disease

The more you know about Alzheimer’s, the more you will come to understand your loved one’s behaviour and what to expect. Better knowledge can give you a better perspective, and might help resolve emotional trauma that’s caused by your loved one’s change in behaviour and memory loss.

2. Self Care

This can look different to everyone, but essentially self-care is taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This can be as simple as getting enough sleep, taking a bath, eating properly and managing stress. If you’re unsure how Alzheimer’s is affecting you as a caregiver, take a look at this caregiver stress checklist.

3. Ask for Help

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can make us feel unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the day-to-day tasks. If you feel helpless, just remember that you’re never alone. There are many online resources available to help you, and sharing the responsibility with a professional healthcare provider is also an option.

Education is the enemy of stigmatization. At Closing the Gap, we’re supporting Alzheimer’s Awareness Month by going purple on social media and creating awareness through education.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease can be incredibly difficult. Closing the Gap’s Home Support services helps provide assistance with activities of daily living. Having additional support can can be an affordable solution that enables individuals to stay at home safely and comfortably. To see if Home Support is right for you and your loved one,Contact Us today.

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