Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are not the same. Dementia is a condition that mainly affects a person’s cognition or mental abilities, everyday activities, and communication. But the most frequent type of Dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia can strike anyone at any age, although the risk increases as the person become older. According to research, this condition is very common among individuals above the age of 65 but cannot be considered a component of the aging process.
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia?
Although the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia are similar, there are significant variances. The conditions appearing in both Alzheimers and Dementia are listed down below:
- The decline in mental ability
- Memory impairment
- Communication impairment
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
- Difficulty in remembering the conversation or recent events
- Impaired judgment
- Swallowing in advanced stages of the disease.
- Behavioral changes
- Difficulty in speaking
Some forms of Dementia share a few of the above-listed symptoms, but they may or may not include the other characteristics that may play an important role in aiding the diagnostic and treatment process. Involuntary motion is much more common among people having Dementia caused by Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease in the initial stages.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting Daily Care
The caregiver shall remember to take time for themselves as well, because taking care of those living with dementia can be very challenging and exhausting. You should consider involving the person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s in leisure tasks. You will see that they are able to participate in going for regular walks.
A person with Alzheimer’s Disease or another kind of degenerative Dementia may soon require the help of a full-time caregiver to manage their daily activities. Enjoyable exercises might help to promote calming and allow for elevated mood.
When designing activities for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is better to keep several factors in mind, like exploring, experimenting, and adjusting. A few of the factors that can be considered for a patient are listed down below:
- Patient’s hobbies
- Patient’s talents
- Patient’s likes and dislikes
- Patient’s abilities
- Patient’s routines
- Allowing for enough time to enjoy their meal, dressing, and bathing.
- A regular schedule
The capabilities of those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease progresses in several phases, from mild to severe. The caregiver should also be flexible to accommodate these progressive changes their loved one is experiencing.
Role Of Healthcare Professionals In The Care Plan Process
Apart from the family members, members of a care team can include professionals like a doctor, nurse, home health, therapy. The team’s main work is to listen to the concerns of the patient and the family members in order to recommend a personalized care plan.
Care teams are responsible for preparing an appropriate treatment plan for those living with dementia or Alzheimers by carefully observing them. During the care plan session, the person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s is present with a friend or relative so that the interprofessional team can explain the expected outcomes and care objectives.
Some common things you may see addressed by the professional team are listed down below:
- Eating Patterns
- Recreational Activities
- Caregiver Support Needs
Each section of the above-listed factors can offer a complete description of current functioning, needs, resources, difficulties, outcomes, and intended goals.
While interacting with those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the healthcare professionals must read specific care plans so that a patient can also understand what is required. In most cases, a patient understands the doctor’s perspective in a much better way than one’s own family members. This way, the patient and the family will be aware of the care’s objectives and the progression of the disease.
Caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s can quickly become burdensome as the disease advances. However, with appropriate preparation, the family members/caregivers can stay ahead of an illness and provide the best possible care for the person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It is important to allow for flexibility even with a planned schedule. You might even find that what has worked for you one day really well might not work for the next day. The daily care plan can be modified and revised even as things progress.
Few Tips for Making the Treatment Plan
The caregiver must remember that one of the goals is to get involved and try to help decrease any negative behavioral symptoms of their loved one, and help their loved ones to experience fewer symptoms of anxiety and restlessness. This will allow for less stress for both the caregiver and the person living with dementia.
If you do notice behavioral episodes, discuss this with your healthcare team to see if they can help problem solve ways to help manage this.
While designing a daily treatment plan, some possible focus areas may include:
- Morning routine
- Healthy meal planning
- Eating schedule
- Medication schedule
- Creative activities (art, music, crafts, etc.)
- Brain training activities (like online programs, crossword puzzles, reading, etc.).
- Socialization (planned visits)
- Hobbies (sewing, cooking, gardening, etc.)
- Household chores
- Seasonal chores (decorating, outdoor chores, Spring cleaning)
- Activities (Assisting with household, folding clothes, playing puzzles)
Try not to focus on the outcome of the activities and games. The important thing to make sure is that your loved one is enjoying participating in these activities.
After creating an outline of the plan, the details can then follow. A few examples have been briefed in the next section.
The Morning Plan/routine shall follow a few basic steps. Ex:
Complete the morning hygiene routine like washing the face, brushing, bathing, etc. The second task can consist of something like chair yoga or basic exercise, food preparation, enjoying the sunlight, or reading the paper. Try to engage them in another activity that they would enjoy.
Eat a healthy lunch together and spend some quality time together by listening to a song, watching a movie, taking family photos, doing outdoor activities if able, or visiting a family member or friend. When the caregiver participates in the activity with their loved one, they may see better results.
Keep in mind that flexibility is the MAIN KEY to a successful Care Plan. Creativity and adaptability will help the caregiver to deliver a better caring environment for their loved one. Every method or daily care plan is unique because everyone is different. This is why it’s important to have a collaborative relationship with the entire care team.
A daily care strategy will provide a gentle framework and tasks for the day, regardless of which stage of Dementia your loved one is in.
Caring for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia requires patience and adaptability. We have listed a few suggestions below. If you’re caring for somebody who has Alzheimer’s Disease or another disease, your responsibility in handling daily tasks will grow as the condition advances.
A few of the suggestions are mentioned below:
- Plan ahead of time to limit problems and reduce frustration. Some tasks, such as showering or going to the doctor, are more manageable when the person is alert.
- Expect things to take a much longer time than usual, and allow yourself breaks in between according to your needs.
- Allow those living with dementia to do as much on their own as possible as long as they are safe and able to do so before attempting to help.
- Those living with dementia benefit the most when you use simple commands and ask close-ended questions.
- Keep the distractions like social media, the internet, etc., very minimum. Turn off the Television and minimize other distractions during mealtime.
- Remain flexible and adjust the goals and complete priority work sooner to prevent stress.
- Create a safe environment.
- Dementia impacts judgment and problem-solving abilities, which can impact safety, making people more vulnerable to damage. To make things safer, consider the following steps:
- Avoid tripping hazards such as throw rugs, cords, etc. In essential areas in the home, professionally installed grab bars can be an option.
- Install locks on cupboards containing potentially harmful items such as medication, poisonous cleaning supplies, weapons, liquor, etc.
- Check the temperature of the water before bathing. To avoid burns, turn down the water heater’s temperature.
- Take safeguard measures in the event of a fire. Fireworks and lighters should be kept out of the patient’s range.
- If the older person smokes, make sure to keep an eye on them. The caregiver can also install carbon monoxide alarms.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic, degenerative brain illness that gradually impacts memory and concentration. In elderly persons, it is the leading form of Dementia. Dementia risks increase with age, and an unhealthy lifestyle in adulthood can enhance the chances.
Every person with Alzheimer’s Disease will have a memory-related issue with the Disease’s signs and progression. Patience, self-care, and the support of friends/relatives can assist a caregiver/family member in dealing with the obstacles and frustrations that arise in the future. The healthcare professionals can also provide appropriate information to the family members so that they may have an idea of what should be expected in the future.