Key strategies for caring for a loved one with dementia



People who care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia they should focus on four key safety issues, says a specialist.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 6 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. About 16.1 million Americans offer unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias.

"When I take care of a family with dementia, I follow the safe and healthy pattern," said Dr. Andrew Duxbury, a geriatrician at the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham .

"Everything we do should ensure that the patient is safe and that the family is healthy." In terms of safety, there are four main factors: meals, transportation, bills and pills, "he explained in a press release.

Regarding meals, caregivers should consider whether the person is able to prepare food, eat a healthy and adequate amount of food and if they are aware that they need to eat, said Duxbury. "If any chain link breaks, maybe the person will not eat," he warned.

As for safety in the kitchen, the "biggest problem is that they leave things on the stove or they forget to turn off the stove, but if cooking is part of someone's routine, let him cook alone while observing what they do in another room" , he said.

"Look, would you let a 12-year-old make dinner? Maybe it was, but I'd definitely be in the next room looking for something to happen," Duxbury said.

Other suggestions include planning meals that require minimal preparation or that can be made in the microwave; remove scissors and knives from countertops and drawers; put labels on kitchen cabinets; and disguise the waste shredder switch to prevent someone from accidentally switching it on.

It is not certain that patients with advanced dementia prepare food in the stove or oven, Duxbury said.

As for leaving home, the loss of independence that occurs when you have to stop driving can be difficult for patients with dementia.

"Often an older man simply wants to have his car keys, feel them in his pocket and see the car in the driveway," Duxbury said. "You can leave the keys, but not the car keys, give the keys to another car or remove the car key from the key chain, so you will have the keys, you will hear them tinkling in your pocket and you will see the car, but you can not go anywhere. "

If a person can no longer drive, caregivers should make sure there is another form of transportation, especially for medical appointments. Make sure medicines, groceries, or meals are sent to them.

Evaluate and monitor the person's financial status to ensure that she has enough money to pay the bills and is not taking advantage of or cheating, advised Duxbury.

Many older people take several medications. Those who suffer from dementia often forget to take their pills, or take pills together which can cause harmful side effects. Caregivers should make sure that their loved ones manage their medications correctly and that they attend consultations with the doctor. It is also important to be aware of other people's health problems.

To help your loved one, prepare a case-mate with the pills of the week, organized for each day. Some boxes of pills have timers and closures that can be prepared to prevent you from taking the wrong day dose.

Duxbury said most people with dementia believe they are fine.

"Families should remember that a person with dementia does not live in the same reality as us," he added. "They live in a reality of the dementia of their brains, these individuals may have completely different perceptions of the world around them and their meaning … We must accept this reality as it is."

More information

The National Institute of Aging in the United States offers more information on caring for a person with Alzheimer's.


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