This is a guest post by Sarah Jennings.
It is a proven fact that socializing on a regular basis, exercise, eating right, and always learning new things is vital to keeping the brain functioning normally. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients often shut themselves off from the world when the diagnosis comes in, instead of trying to fight it.
Extensive research has found that there are ways to slow the progression of the disease, and getting out of the house, talking to other people, or seeing family are great ways to keep the social aspect in their life. Do not let it make you barricade yourselves in your home and never go anywhere, just sitting there waiting for the worst to happen. Fight!
Some really good ways to include being around others or introducing the idea of being around others include but are not limited to:
• Adult Day Care Centers: These are great outlets for you, if you are your spouse’s or parent’s caregiver. There has got to be some time for doing the normal chores of running a household, much less one with someone needing medicine and special care. There are many errands that you need to run in a week and a few hours to yourself or with your spouse is a treat. Routines are appreciated by the elderly and by the facilities. So when you set up a schedule, stick to it. If it is a really bad day, it is probably better if your loved one stays in. But, realize the importance of having a routine.
• Senior Community: This is a wide subject and does not refer just to a nursing home. There are many assisted living communities that make it easy to allow your loved one to be around other elderly people and their families, but also has around the clock care. Beware of using an assisted living that does not monitor when your family member leaves. Being an Alzheimer’s patient, they should know that a special eye needs to be kept on them and if they do leave without permission, some sort of emergency procedure should be in place so you are notified.
• Join a Club: Most communities have some sorts of Alzheimer’s groups and even those for perfectly healthy people that just want to gather with others their age. If yours doesn’t, make one. Chances are your area will thank you with donations of time, activity items, and outings. Connect with people you know, that are your age and have the same challenges ahead of them. They are probably just as motivated to help their loved one as you are.
• Family Visits: Have time scheduled into the routine for visits from friends and family. Keeping those bonds strong and tight are so important. It doesn’t take long once the disease has taken hold for the patient to start to forget who the most special people to them are. I know. This has happened to me and my family. The only person my grandfather recognized by the time of his death was my grandmother…and sometimes he called her by his daughter’s name. Those memories can be broken down fairly quickly if you don’t make the effort to keep them fresh in their mind. Talking about the old times and looking at photo albums will make the past more vivid.
• Get Out: You need to include a “date” day. Take your loved one to the movies or for a walk at the park while you point out basic things for them to name back to you. Anything you can make a game of to promote healthy brain function is productive. Guessing games at the zoo are fun too!
If your family has had to adjust to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia, don’t lose hope. You have the power to make it better, or more comfortable. Do what you can to slow the progress of the disease, but enjoy your time with that person you love so dearly.
Author Bio: Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes for Brookdale assisted living.