There are many things that every person does every day. These things include eating, dressing, bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the plaques and tangles affects a person’s memory and cognition, a person’s motor control also decreases. This can be very frustrating to a person with Alzheimer’s disease and can cause anxiety, irritability, anger and aggression (all common symptoms of Alzheimer’s).
To help people feel useful and independent, caregivers can adjust daily tasks to make them easier and make conscious efforts to include a person with Alzheimer’s in as many activities as they can. We improve a person’s quality of life by prolonging that person’s independence, and by making her feel that she is being productive.
Create a Safe Environment
Safety is the first concern of anyone caring for a person with a disability, but stay aware of independence issues while creating a safe place. Many of the things we take for granted can be dangerous for someone who has trouble maintaining focus, remembering that a knife, for example, can cut fingers as well as vegetables. Alzheimer’s-proofing a house is very similar to child-proofing it.
Establish and Maintain a Routine
This is probably the most significant step you can take to extend the independence of the person with Alzheimer’s. The basic activities of daily living should be part of a routine, done at the same time and in the same order each day.
Put Her to Work
Losing the feeling of being a productive member of the family or of society is as big a blow to someone as her loss of independence. Give her chores around the house. Let her help with the dishes, even if you have to re-wash them later. Allow her to vacuum. Let her chop vegetables (keeping in mind the safety imperative). She could sort and fold laundry, clip coupons, dry silverware, dust tables; most any of the pesky household chores can provide some meaning for the person with dementia.
Provide Physical and Mental Exercise
Stretching, dancing, and walking, anything that is physically stimulating, will extend the time that the person with Alzheimer’s can remain physically independent. Game, puzzles, reading, anything that is cognitively stimulating will increase the time he will remain mentally independent. Tailor or select each activity according to the abilities and interests of the individual. The more enjoyable it is, the more beneficial it will be. Don’t forget to exercise the hands. Keeping them strong and limber will make it easier to do many of the activities listed above.
This doesn’t necessarily mean “funny looking” or “odd.” For someone in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s, shoes with Velcro fasteners, tube socks, pull-over or zipper front shirts and sweaters, all make it easier for him to dress and undress himself. In later stages you may need clothing that is designed for someone who needs help dressing. Eventually clothing that he can’t remove may be necessary, as inappropriate undressing can be a problem in the middle and later stages of dementia.
Something as simple as a cane can make it possible for him to get around. Specially designed forks and spoons make it easier to eat by himself. Sturdy grab bars make getting in and out of the tub easier and safer. Raised toilet seats extend his independence by making toileting easier. Begin by defining the problem. It is very likely that someone has found a solution that fits.
This article is a shortened version of the one found on Best Alzheimer’s Products, read the full article here.