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If you are the caregiver for a loved one who has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, you understand how difficult it is to keep your loved one safe. One of the ways to keep your loved one is safe is to reduce their level of anxiety in their own home.
Alzheimer’s symptoms vary from person to person. But due to the nature of the disease, specifically the deterioration of the brain itself, different areas of the brain are affected. If your loved one is experiencing increased anxiety, try some of these tips to lessen the effects.
1. Offer simple instructions or directions. Complex instructions such as put on your clothes, brush your teeth and hair and come down to breakfast, can cause someone with Alzheimer’s to become anxious due to having to remember all of those instructions. In processing these instructions, steps are missed and your mom or dad could come downstairs wearing just their shirt with clean teeth and freshly combed hair. Their brains are unable to process several instructions strung together as one. Giving instruction for each step will help reduce that anxiety.
2. Offer clothing that is simple to manage. Shirts with too many buttons can cause your loved one to become frustrated and agitated because of their inability to use their hands to perform the desired tasks. Keep clothing items simple with plain patterns. Slip-on shoes provide an alternative to having to tie shoelaces, as this requires several steps to complete.
3. Reduce visual stimuli in their home environment. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes have difficulty with paintings and artwork that require interpretation. They look at it and try to comprehend what they see but are unable to because of the complexity of the piece. Consider landscapes and simple artwork to reduce the need for comprehension. Wall coverings, curtains and rugs should be simple, solid colors to reduce the visual stimuli. Eliminate large wall mirrors as well, as Alzheimer’s patients have been known to think they are much younger than they really are. When they see this “stranger” in the mirror, anxiety can set in.
4. Ensure your loved one is eating a balanced diet full of whole foods and plenty of fluids. A common cause of disorientation among elderly women comes from the onset of a urinary tract infection. This is true for anyone regardless of having been diagnosed with Alzheimer. By drinking plenty of clear fluids, your loved one will be well hydrated, preventing them from urinary tract infections.
5. Take your loved one for a walk or some form of exercise. Exercising or doing some physical activity has been shown to relieve stress for anyone. Routine exposure to sunlight and fresh air could help to reduce some anxiety that may result of being in the home for too long.
The next time you see your loved one with Alzheimer’s suffering from anxiety, try implementing some of these tips. Talk to your doctor to see what is appropriate, and to ensure that the anxiety does not have some other underlying cause.