When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, there are a multitude of symptoms that are going to make life more difficult at times. Whether it be the continued memory loss or general confusion these individuals face, Alzheimer’s is a disease that can flip someone’s life completely upside down. But it doesn’t have to.
As family members, medical professionals, and all-around advocates for Alzheimer’s patients, there are things we can do in order to improve their quality of life. Some examples include intellectually-based and therapeutic activities that stimulate the patient’s mental and social health. Products like With Therapy can help those with Alzheimer’s find an appropriate therapist to best fit their mental and emotional needs. Here are another few proven ways to make life better for Alzheimer’s patients:
- Ensure that the patient is receiving appropriate treatment. For many individuals with Alzheimer’s, a treatment protocol that includes therapy and some medication is needed to reduce symptoms. And in support of this individual, it’s the responsibility of family and friends to know the effects of these different treatments. That way it can be discussed with medical professionals to find the best treatment combination for the patient. Some of these medications can have adverse effects that could impact other co-existing health-related conditions.
- Encourage physical and mental activity. With Alzheimer’s, remaining active while dealing with the rigorous effects of this disease can be hard. Having an active lifestyle fueled by a healthy diet can ensure that you “live well with this diagnosis for as long as possible.” With this disease, their are many factors out of the patient’s control. However, physical health is something they can maintain. For example, the Mediterranean and MIND diets “have been associated with cognitive benefits” in recent studies. Also, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found encouraging results for the use of increased physical activity and blood pressure control for halting or preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s. Likewise, this organization found that cognitive training and keeping the mind as active as the body aids in fighting the disease too.
- Find personalized coping strategies. As the disease progresses, certain tasks will become more difficult for the patient over time. Finding ways to cope with these hurdles will help improve the patient’s overall mental and psychological health. Discuss with these patients what these new hurdles are, and figure out ways to overcome them when they occur. Whether you determine together that a task is no longer relevant to that patient’s life or if you find solutions together, figure out ways to bypass or overcome those hurdles.
- Help set realistic goals. One way to not let the disease run a patient’s life is to set realistic goals for which they can strive. Fighting a disease like Alzheimer’s can feel like an impossible battle, so coming up with specific goals can help the diagnosis feel less daunting. By working with the patient to figure out what grandiose goals they’d like to achieve, you can cut them up into smaller, more palatable steps. Reaching each checkpoint on their road to a goal will feel like a little victory. These goals can be as simple as remembering the names and ages of their nuclear family members, or as large playing an entire round of chess without forgetting the rules. Either way, it’ll help them feel like they aren’t losing to their disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and is an irreversible brain disorder. With more than an estimated 5.5 million Americans falling victim to this disease, it’s no wonder depression is a common comorbidity in this population. However, family, friends and medical advocates can make the overall life of someone with Alzheimer’s disease a bit better with just a little extra time and care.