Caregiving for an Alzheimer’s Patient: How to Prepare

About Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder, meaning it is characterized by the gradual death of brain cells. It is the most common type of dementia that generally affects seniors over the age of 65. Its most common symptoms are memory loss and cognitive decline. While research is being done, we are still not sure the exact cause of Alzheimer’s.

FACTS & STATISTICS:

  • More than 850,000 Britons live with Alzheimer’s disease. One in fourteen people age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s. However, 1 in 20 cases of Alzheimer’s’ occurs in patients between the ages of 40-65.
  • It is the leading cause of death for females in the UK and the second largest cause of death for males.
  • 5 million Britons are carers, providing care valued at £132 billion per year.

The facts are this: without caregivers, we would not be able to handle the aging epidemic that is Alzheimer’s disease.

Preparing to Be an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Alzheimer’s disease affects about 816,000 Britons, about 774,000 of which are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, your cousin, your sibling or even your parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking the loved one into their own home.

To prepare to become a caregiver, it’s important to make your home as comfortable and safe as possible for the person with Alzheimer’s. Every home is going to need different modifications depending on the family’s needs. If you are unsure about where to start, talk with your loved one’s doctor for advice and review.

One of the biggest dangers you want to avoid is a slip and fall. It is the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related accidents in seniors. A fall can also lead to fatal injury– every 20 seconds an older adult dies from a fall related injury.

To prevent falls, make sure the walkways in your house are clear. Place ramps over stairs to make them easier and safer to navigate. Walkways should be level both outside and indoors. You may want to consider taking up any rugs that could prove to be a tripping hazard. Avoid low furniture like coffee tables and ottomans that can get in their way. When it comes to decor, the simpler you can make it, the better.

Set up a bedroom for your loved one where they can have peace, quiet, and privacy. In the best case scenario, this bedroom is on the first floor and has a connecting bathroom. While this may not be possible depending on your home layout, it’s important the Alzheimer’s patient has easy access to a bathroom even if it not directly attached to their room. Install grab bars and a shower bench in their bathroom for safe and easy bathing.

Finally, you want the house to be well lit. Keep lights on or accessible in their bedroom and consider putting in an auto switch that turns the lights on whenever they enter their bathroom. Use plug in lights to illuminate hallways or consider installing track lighting that keeps them visible.

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting millions of people. The disease robs people of the memory and makes it harder for them to function in day-to-day life. To help them, many family members and loved ones take in people with Alzheimer’s as unpaid caregivers. These caregivers work around the clock to provide a safe and comfortable environment where the patient can spend the rest of their days.