There are millions of Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease. And with this, there are the millions who are unpaid caregivers for a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The health and emotional stability of people who care for Alzheimer’s patients directly affects the patients themselves, and thus should be an important part of the patients’ care plans.
What Caregivers Can Expect as the Disease Progresses
- A decline in logical thinking and judgment
- Inappropriate social behaviors
- Confusion and disorientation
- Rummaging and hiding objects
- Aggressiveness, anger, and frustration
- Night wakefulness
- Refusal to eat
What Caregivers Can Do to Decrease Stress
Patient Who Tends to Wander
- Recognize common precursors to wandering, such as restlessness and disorientation.
- Reassure and reorient the person.
- Reduce noise levels and confusion.
- Involve the person in productive daily activities and exercise.
- Have a written plan for yourself if the person does wander.
- Keep a recent photograph of the person to give to police if the person does wander.
- Inform the police and your neighbors of the person’s tendency to wander.
- Have the person wear bright, distinctive clothing.
Patient Who Rummages and Hides Things
Protect your valuables, and hide dangerous or toxic products from the person. Take some time to:
- Lock cabinets and specific rooms.
- Store valuables and unsafe substances out of reach of the person.
- Learn where the person tends to hide objects.
You can also create diversions. Try these tips:
- Use a basket of towels or laundry. They may repeat folding the items in the basket for a period of time.
- Give them a box of mixed objects to sort out, such as screws, bolts, or beads.
- Create a special place, such as a chest of drawers, a box, or chest.
Talk to the doctor about adjusting medication if behavior does not improve.