Posted on | May 21, 2012
Maintaining independence while also living with Alzheimer’s may seem counterintuitive or even impossible. And yet, those individuals with Alzheimer’s who maintain a level of independence as the disease progresses are often individuals who also stay healthier and more cognitively aware as they age. How can a caregiver help their patient or loved one maintain independence for as long as possible? Here are some ways.
Offer your patient or loved one choice in their everyday life. Leading them to their closet and asking them to choose their own outfit from a closet full of options may be too overwhelming and cause anxiety and stress. However, laying out two or three outfits and asking them to choose the one they’d like to wear today accomplishes the independence of choice without causing undue strain.
Encourage your patient or loved one to do things for themselves. Fine motor skill decline as a result of Alzheimer’s may leave one unable to put toothpaste on a toothbrush, but your patient may be more than capable of brushing their own teeth. Encourage them to do so while you help them with something else. Encourage them to apply lotion to their arms while you help with their legs, or tie their shoes while they work on buttoning their shirt.
Do not tell your loved one or patient what to do, but allow them the time to make their own decisions and complete tasks themselves. This requires patience. Rather than rattling off a command, patiently ask politely and then give them time to complete the task themselves. Remember that with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related impairments, independence takes time. It’s easy to simply do it ourselves, but enabling your loved one or patient to maintain their independence will also improve their quality of life.
About the Author:
Bridges® by EPOCH is the evolution of EPOCH Senior Living’s renowned memory care program BRIDGES®. Recognizing that a free-standing community devoted entirely to caring for those with memory challenges can provide more focused care, an enhanced lifestyle and a more fulfilling environment, Bridges® by EPOCH is the realization of EPOCH’s commitment to improving the lives of all those touched by Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. EOEA Certification Application Pending.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the senior living industry, Alicia Seaver is committed to making a difference in the lives of seniors. Prior to joining the Bridges® by EPOCH team, Alicia held various positions at senior living communities in Florida and Massachusetts, including Executive Director of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care and Memory Care Program Director at Emeritus Senior Living. Through her extensive experience, Alicia gained valuable knowledge and expertise that will allow her to truly make a difference in the lives of residents at Bridges® by EPOCH at Hingham. Additionally, Alicia is certified by the National Institute on Aging as a Memory Impairment Specialist and is certified in both Massachusetts and Florida as a State Certified Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia Trainer. Alicia is excited to be part of an organization that is as dedicated to providing high quality, individualized care to seniors as she is. Alicia currently lives in South Shore with her husband and two daughters.