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Alzheimer's: Dealing with daily challenges
Alzheimer's often makes routine daily activities a challenge. Consider these simple tips to make everyday activities easier.By Mayo Clinic staff
People who have Alzheimer's disease often need help handling routine daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom. If your loved one needs this type of care, balance his or her loss of privacy and independence with gentleness and tact.
Bathing can be a frightening, confusing experience for a person who has Alzheimer's. Having a plan can help make the experience better for both of you. Consider these tips:
- Find the right routine. Some people like showers, while others prefer tub baths. Time of day is often important as well. Experiment with morning, afternoon and evening bathing.
- Make it comfortable. Make sure the bathroom is warm, and keep towels or bath blankets handy.
- Keep it private. If your loved one is self-conscious about being naked, provide a towel for cover when he or she gets in and out of the shower or tub.
- Help your loved one feel in control. Explain each step of the bathing process to help your loved one understand what's happening.
- Be flexible. If daily bathing is traumatic, alternate showers or tub baths with sponge baths.
The physical and mental impairment of Alzheimer's can make dressing a frustrating experience. Here are some hints to help your loved one maintain his or her appearance:
- Establish a routine. Help your loved one get dressed at the same time each day.
- Limit choices. Offer no more than two clothing options each morning. Empty closets and drawers of inappropriate or rarely worn clothes that could complicate the decision.
- Provide direction. Lay out pieces of clothing in the order they should be put on — or hand out clothing one piece at a time as you provide short, simple dressing instructions.
- Be patient. Rushing the dressing process could cause anxiety.
- Consider your loved one's tastes and dislikes. Don't argue if your loved one doesn't want to wear a particular garment or chooses the same outfit repeatedly.
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- Eating. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_eating.pdf. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Shatenstein B, et al. Dietary intervention in older adults with early-stage Alzheimer dementia: Early lessons learned. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2008;12:461.
- Caregiver guide. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/caregiverguide.htm. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Incontinence. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_10510.asp. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.