Life Modifications Tips

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Northwester Offers Great Alzheimer's Tips

Some of the most practical info I've ever read:

http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/patients/care.html

Structure the environment


  • Perhaps the most useful factor in preserving orientation is creating a home environment that is simple, orderly, and predictable, yet also allows freedom of movement. The more variability in the patient's surroundings, the more likely it is that he or she will become confused and disoriented.

  • One room, or a portion of a room, can be modified to fit the needs of the patient as an "orientation area." This helps create simplicity and order in the home environment. This orientation area should be centrally located and easily accessible.

  • Items essential to the patient for daily living activities, such as eyeglasses, keys, and writing accessories, might be placed in this area. Thus, the orientation area can serve as a focal location in which the patient can find orientation clues, specific information, and items needed in the course of a day.

  • A clock (perhaps digital), a calendar, and a bulletin board or slate will provide a means for keeping track of the time and important messages.

  • A daily schedule of activities for the patient and family members should be posted to assist the patient in remembering what appointments or activities are scheduled and where family members are at all times.

  • Labeled pictures of family members, close friends, or pets will help the patient associate names with faces (such as, brother John); our cat (Sigmund).

  • Structure can be imposed on the remaining portions of the house by labeling drawers, closets, or rooms.

  • Avoid changing the arrangement of furniture, color schemes, or anything else that will reduce familiarity of the surroundings.

  • Make sure that frequently used areas such as the bathroom and hallways are well lit at night.

  • Keep the bedroom located as close to the bathroom as possible and have conspicuous cues directing the patient to the bathroom.

   

"Alz" proofing the house: An Alzheimer's House

Most people are ready to "child-proof" their homes when babies start crawling and toddlers start poking around in every nook and cranny. "Alzhiemer's" proofing your home, however, can unexpected and be an even greater challenge. Depending on how Alzheimer's has affected the person in your home will affect what you need to alter, but be prepared to alter.

For example, have they lost the ability to figure out the proper amount of time to heat something in the microwave, but still retain the urge to "use" the microwave? If the microwave is built into a cabinet, it's tougher to unplug it.

Do they wander around and turn off all the lights out of habit, even if others want them on? Some switches might need to be "taped" over. Is the stove still accessible to them? Do they want to put the kettle onto the gas stove? It may mean that the kettle has to be hidden.

One suggestion is to "groove" them into a path, a routine that let's them do what they want to do, but leaves other things safetly untouched outside of their path. For example, create a special nook or corner on the kitchen counter that has "their" stuff. Maybe a box of biscuits or snacks keeps them coming back to rummage there. This could keep them away from poking around in other cabinets.

Do they have a favorite chair in the living room that's exclusively theirs. Keep some newspapers, magazines or knitting supplies there. This gives them a place to go to when bored, rather than wandering to other parts of the house.

   

Alzheimers - Break It Down, Because It is Breaking

When I first went online looking for Alzheimer's information, I was surprised to find so little in terms of practical advice. There were nice stories, but little of the nitty gritty. I have some practical advice on how to talk to a person with Alzheimer's. It will vary of course from person to person, but one of the first things that goes is short term memory. So imagine trying to keep track of a conversation or a multi-step set of tasks. Don't forget, even getting ready to go out the door is very mult-step!

Therefore, tell them the first step....and then wait. Wait till they do it. Then go on to the next step. Sometimes it's like moving a stick thru honey, sweet but a drag. For example, it might work better to first say, wash your hair now, now your shoulders, okay, your arms, splash some water on your feet, scrub your feet with the towel. Rather than "Time to take a shower." There is no need to talk slow or babyish, just short compact phrases of what they need to do. They might fuss a little, but notice how they are also relieved they can get thru it now -- with your help.

   

Create a Comfort Zone: Getting Groovy with Alzheimer's

Our society doesn't have much for old folks that need supervision to do. Young kids have soccer games, kindergarten, school, clubs, play-dates, piano lessons and such to keep them active during the day, but what about for old folks? If you're lucky, your elder will have a hobby they still enjoy or can do. If not, it may help to create a "Comfort Zone." This could be a desk with with their favorite photo albums and knick-knacks within easy reach. Or it could be a comfortable armchair with towels to fold or newspapers to read. Look for what things they enjoy and can spend hours on occupying themselves. It's okay to let go of the idea that they need to do the complex hobbies and tasks of the past, with Alzheimer's it's comfort we're looking for these days.

   

Clear the Clutter I - The Bathroom. Be Alzheimer's Safe

Observe

Reduce

Relax

Imagine yourself in an Alzheimer's world. Your memory is going and you can't remember if you just did something. You turn to ingrained routines and clues for what to do. What happens if there are so many clues and things to look at that you get confused, uncertain, just lost in it all? Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nice simple environment and routine to get you thru the day?

Take a look at what is in the bathroom of person with Alzheimer's. Do they need 4 types of shampoo, conditioner, five sets of towels, some flower trinkets here and there, a slip rug on the ground, a radio, several toothbrushes, medicine and cotton balls?

I remember the day my dad used the mouthwash as shampoo, hey -- an easy mistake.

Instead observe what they use and need. The toothbrush, toothpaste, a cup, a facecloth, a comb. That's it. All in front of them ready to go. They just look down and know what to do. Brush teeth, wash face, comb hair. That's it.

All the other stuff goes away, reduce, remove.

Then you can relax.

   

Changes are necessary: Alzheimer's is the new boss.

Most people will not understand the changes you'll have to make. Our society is set up to deal with taking care of kids or the ill, but it is not good at dementia. Remember that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had Alzheimer's, but the way society and thier families dealt with it was to take them out of the spotlight and hide them from all but the closest of family and friends. We'd like to bring Alzheimer's and dealing with it to light here at LifeTips.

   
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Jolyn Wells-Moran