~ By Mary Tuuk, MD ~
Caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease are faced with a difficult choice when deciding whether to bring the loved one to an event. Many times those with Alzheimer’s disease have a difficult time adjusting to happenings outside the home. In addition, those with Alzheimer’s disease sometimes wander because they’re easily disoriented.
But with some planning on the part of the caregiving these issues can be overcome, making for an enjoyable experience for all involved.
Make Events Enjoyable Experience
Throughout the year there are holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and other events that a caregiver will want to bring a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. No doubt this is a challenge. But with some planning and flexibility these events can be fun occasions.
While those of us who care for people with Alzheimer’s usually tell caregivers to keep activities routine and minimize distractions, at these events it’s probably not possible.
Meeting people can be difficult for someone with dementia. When introducing a loved one to someone new, or even those you expect him or her to know, a full introduction is necessary. They often don’t remember names of friends or their grandchildren. Introducing your loved one each time serves to reduce awkwardness and helps your loved one keep dignity intact and reduce embarrassment.
Remember to stay with the loved one throughout the event. If the event becomes overwhelming, look for a quiet place to regroup. Set a specific amount of time to stay at any event and then promptly leave when the time is reached.
Limit Wandering with These Ideas
While attending an event in a new environment someone with Alzheimer’s disease may wander. Aging adults with different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, often become disoriented and wander as a result. Six of 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease end up wandering at some point, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Wandering can occur for several reasons:
Adding or maintaining structure throughout the day can help lower the risk of wandering. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association has some excellent tips on how caregivers can work to minimize the risk of wandering:
Avoid places with lots of activity when possible;
No single solution will work for everyone; caregivers should experiment over time with different strategies to find one that works for the caregiver and the loved one with Alzheimer’s.
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