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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

7 ways to improve quality of life for a loved one with Alzheimer’s

It’s a tragic mistake to assume someone living with Alzheimer’s can no longer have a good quality of life. Those with a cognitive illness will face certain unique challenges but no one should be defined by a diagnosis. When it comes to what is needed to experience happiness and joy, it turns out that we’re all very similar.

If you’re searching for ways to help your loved one have a meaningful life, here are 7 steps that can actually make a significant difference:

1. Ensure their care is person-centered

No two people diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s are the same. Individuals will respond in their own way and therefore it’s important that care is based on their specific circumstance. As with all progressive illnesses, these needs will change, along with the required care, as the disease advances.

Although there are some generalities regarding Alzheimer’s, everyone who cares for your loved one should know them and understand what gives them pleasure, what activities they like to do and what may cause them frustration. Care plans should always be specifically tailored to the individual.

2. Promote meaningful relationships and social interactions

We all need human contact and to form and nurture relationships. This need is no different for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Whether your loved one is receiving care at home or in a memory support community, you’ll want to make sure there are numerous opportunities for them to connect with others.

Research has shown the benefit of interactions. When staff has regular conversations with residents about their families or personal interests, it can reduce agitation and pain, improving their quality of life. Encourage family members and friends to visit and whenever possible, to create treasured moments together.

3. Provide choices

As often as you can, make sure your loved one has the opportunity to make their own choices. Helping them to remain as independent as possible is a great influence on someone’s quality of life.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the decisions are theirs to make but as the illness continues, you’ll need to be more mindful. Don’t overwhelm them with possibilities, but even offering them the choice to wear the blue shirt or the red one can help them feel more in control. What’s important is that they know they are being heard and respected when it comes to their likes and dislikes.

4. Encourage use of their abilities

Don’t assume it is time for you to take over without understanding what their capabilities truly are. Even after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, there are still areas where a person can function relatively well before the illness progresses to its later stages.

Spend enough time to comprehend what the person’s abilities are and encourage them to remain involved. Help them compensate whenever possible. For example, someone who can’t remember the date may remember the calendar is in the kitchen. Or they might be able to dress themselves if the clothes have no or few buttons and zippers.

5. Help create coping strategies

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, assist in creating coping strategies. Being able to solve as many problems as they can bring a sense of independence and control. Here are a few steps the Alzheimer’s Association recommends:

  • Make a list of tasks that have become more challenging
  • Determine if a task is necessary or if someone else can help out
  • Strategize different solutions that could work
  • Set realistic goals
  • Approach one task at a time and if it becomes too difficult, take a break or ask for help
  • Recognize triggers that cause stress
  • Rely on sources of strength, including family, friends, prayer or pets

6. Provide opportunities for music or art therapy

The frustration and fear caused by cognitive illnesses present a challenge to individuals and their families. Communicating those feelings can be difficult, resulting in anger and a sense of hopelessness. But there are therapies that might unlock a person’s thoughts or emotions they find difficult to express.

Music has been shown to reduce agitation and even improve some behaviors. It provides a way to connect even when words are no longer possible. Art projects not only allow an opportunity for self-expression but can also provide a sense of accomplishment.

7. Ensure they receive the best quality of care

As the disease progresses, eventually your loved one will need to solely rely on you to make the best decisions regarding care and their quality of life. There may come a time when you won’t be able to provide everything they need at home.

Although it can be a difficult decision, when a loved one begins receiving care in a memory support community, there can actually be a significant improvement in their quality of life. They will still have your love and care but will now be supported by a trained staff who can provide activities and personal attention 24/7 to best meet your loved one’s needs.

Quality of life for the caregiver

Remember that the quality of life of both your loved one and yourself as the caregiver is intertwined. It is so important that you find ways to take care of yourself as well. Begin by learning as much as you can about the disease and then find the best support possible. Locating resources early will be greatly beneficial.

Plan now for how you will be able to take needed breaks in the future and consider joining a support group. This is too difficult to try and face alone. Just knowing that others have been where you are and survived can be a lifeline for you to hang on to.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

In our community, you’ll find everything you need to create and maintain the best quality of life for your loved one and your family. We offer a person-directed approach around the clock to all of our residents that include individualized care, nutritious meals and music, art, movement, pet and recreational therapies. Our goal is to help everyone feel empowered and fully engaged.

Our residents live in spacious and sun-filled homes in intimate and secured neighborhoods. The licensed nurses and staff are trained in the best dementia care practices. We also offer on-site physician offices, a wellness center, salon and spa. And you’ll find family support and education is available for you as well.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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