Good Afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.
Today’s topic is “Ambulation and the Senses in the Moderate Stage of Alzheimer’s.”
The person in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s often can still move around well. Safety issues, however, can be a concern. It’s important to keep their living area hazard-free, well-lit and as accessible as possible. Wandering also can be a problem and perceptual-motor problems can affect ambulation.
As a caregiver, you need to adjust to their needs.
· If possible, close off part of the house if the physical space is too confusing for your loved one.
· Remove furniture that’s no longer being used and get rid of excess clutter.
· Be sure all walking areas are free of mess and well lit.
· Have a safe area for the individual to walk. If they tend to wander, clear a pathway through the house. Strategically place chairs so they can rest.
· Get rid of throw or scatter rugs that might cause them to stumble and fall.
· Simplify the environment whenever possible so the confused individual isn’t overwhelmed. Seek the help of an occupational therapist to perform a home safety evaluation.
· Prompt your loved one any time you plan to move to another room. Start by saying, “We need to get up now.” Then gently help them get out of the chair or move across the room. Never pull or push them from place to place.
· Provide suggestions and structure. Don’t ask them if they want to do something. Instead, say, “It’s time to…”
· If possible, avoid overnight stays in the hospital. It’s better to bring your loved one home and have in-home assistance than to have them stay in an unfamiliar environment. If they do have to stay overnight, bring some familiar items along, like their blanket, pictures or their favorite music. This will help raise their comfort level and reduce agitation.
· When traveling, stick to familiar places. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to help with your loved one. Keep trips slow paced and short.
· Be flexible with time. Leave enough time for your loved one to get ready. Allow them to adjust to any change in the schedule. Travel during the less busy times of the day.
· Carry information that says you’re traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s. List your contact information should anything happen to you. Also have identification for the individual, too.
· Enroll the person in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program. Have them wear a medical alert identification bracelet and consider getting a companion bracelet for yourself.
· Take along some familiar items, such as pictures, tapes, books or games to distract your loved one if they’re known to become agitated when traveling.
· Plan ahead for restroom breaks when traveling or going to appointments.
Despite decreases in their memory, judgment and the ability to learn new tasks, individuals with Alzheimer’s retain senses, such as hearing, taste, sight, smell and touch. Some senses, like hearing and sight, may be impaired. As their caregiver, you have to focus on the healthy senses to continue bringing your loved one pleasure. Here are some ways to stimulate their senses.
· Touch them often to show you care, even when they no longer understand your words. Some individuals shy away from being touched but most find a gentle touch reassuring.
· Keep them from being dehydrated. Many Alzheimer’s sufferers don’t get enough fluids because they don’t recognize the sensation of thirst anymore or they forget to drink. Symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, dry skin, flushing and fever, rapid pulse, confusion and a refusal to drink.
· Maintain a calm environment. Those with Alzheimer’s have difficulty coping with the stress of a hectic environment. When there’s too much going on, they can respond with anger or frustration.
· Keep laughter and humor alive in the relationship.
· Don’t forget the joy an animal can bring to someone. Many assisted living facilities have pet therapy programs or house their own pets to stimulate loving interactions.
· Invite a family minister, priest, rabbi or spiritual director to visit.
· Be aware that some individuals in the moderate stage try to touch everything they see and can put inappropriate things in their mouth. Look at the environment like your child-proofing your house. Get rid of anything that’s unsafe or can be swallowed.
Being a caregiver for someone in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s requires flexibility and patience. As the abilities of your loved one change and functioning independently becomes more difficult, you’ll have to take on greater responsibility. Daily routines will have to be adapted and structure becomes more important.
As your responsibilities become more demanding, it’s important to take care of yourself. Take breaks, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t isolate yourself. Learn what respite services are available in your community and take friends and family up on offers to help.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.
Join me at 1 pm Saturday when I’ll talk about what happens in the severe stage of Alzheimer’s.