An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a very difficult thing to come to terms with. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is the third-ranking cause of death for the elderly in the U.S. This can leave those diagnosed feeling rather hopeless about their future. At this point, the only thing doctors can do for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is to try to slow the disease’s progression. This is done through medication and various lifestyle changes that may be applicable to a patient.
There are literally millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is imperative that we as friends and family, businesses, care workers, and community members be aware of how someone with Alzheimer’s disease may behave and what they may be experiencing. In doing so, we can better understand how to support them in their daily lives.
Here are some practical ways you can create hope for Alzheimer’s patients:
Amplify their abilities
People with Alzheimer’s disease are on a journey of losing their ability to do many things they used to. When the memory starts to slip, daily rituals like cooking and driving become nearly impossible. Many people mourn the loss of hobbies they once loved like swimming or reading. For this reason, it is important to focus on what someone can do. Can they listen to music? Make a cup of tea? Take walks around the neighborhood? Try to engage people in whatever they are still capable of. Sometimes this actually means learning something new! Maybe they get into painting or find new enjoyment in gardening.
Get them involved in a community
No one wants to feel like they’re facing this alone and social isolation is shown to make cognitive decline happen more rapidly. Most communities will have dementia support groups or an Alzheimer’s Association chapter with a plethora of resources. Alternatively, adult day care software services or local senior centers may be a great place for someone to socialize, engage in an activity and find a safe place to be themselves. More often than not, these places provide transportation and/or various medical services as well.
Supporting research efforts puts more eyes and dollars on finding new treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The more people participate in fundraising efforts and raising awareness, the more pressure and urgency there is to fund research schemes. Whether you participate in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s, raise money for research or participate in a research trial you are making a statement of support and hope.
Look for assistive technology
There are many wonderful smart devices that can help someone with Alzheimer’s disease find some semblance of freedom and independence. This article on Alexa for Seniors looks at how the Amazon Echo can help with things like setting reminders to take medication, call the doctor, order a taxi, or turn off the oven. Alexa can also provide entertainment and this is all done through voice-activated technology. Other great pieces of assistive technology include ‘smart home’ systems that improve the safety of the home, wandering detectors, or adaptive switches and controls.
Find dementia-friendly events
As the awareness of dementia increases, more and more businesses and organizations are doing their part to ensure accessibility for persons living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. This means providing staff with dementia training and providing a relaxed environment so that those living with dementia and their carers can still enjoy an outing. Find out if your local theatre company puts on any dementia-friendly performances. Many art museums have dementia-friendly tours or programs these days. Cinemas, concert halls, botanic gardens, cafes, and libraries all around the world have adopted dementia-friendly programming and events into their repertoire. Assisted living facilities like Assured Assisted Living have many options for activities and social events for your loved ones.