November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness month. This disease affects more than 5 million Americans and their families, and this number will most likely triple by 2050. It is the leading cause of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. As we head into the holiday season, it can be hard to see loved ones affected by this disease struggle to complete everyday tasks many of us take for granted.

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to remember to stay patient and flexible. A person with Alzheimer’s can become frustrated when simple tasks are difficult. You can help by offering practical assistance that can help maintain their sense of independence and dignity. Establish a routine for daily tasks, but allow for some flexibility. Things might take longer than you expect and it’s helpful to have extra time built in so you don’t need to rush them. Provide simple instructions for tasks and make an effort to reduce distractions like television and loud music, so that it is easier for them to focus on the task at hand.

People affected by Alzheimer’s often have impaired judgement that can make them more susceptible to injury, so take steps to create a safe environment. Avoid having loose cords, rugs, and clutter in areas where they spend a lot of time, and keep matches, lighters, and flammable items out of reach.

It’s tough to watch your loved ones go through something so difficult, especially during this festive season. As they become more dependent, it’s important to stay flexible so that you reduce frustration for both them and yourself. Every person affected is different and what might work one day might not work the next. Make sure to take time for yourself as well – check out the tips below for self-care strategies.

It’s important to take care of yourself, physically and mentally, when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Some ways you can practice self-care include:
Join a caregiver’s support group. These groups meet in person and online to share experiences and provide support.

Reach out to family and friends for assistance. Ask for help in specific ways, like making a meal, making a home visit, or taking the person out for a short time.
Take time for yourself. Spend a little time every day to focus on your own health and well-being.

Sources: National Institute on Aging, MayoClinic. Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.