Helping Older Adults Who Suffer from Alzheimer’s or Other Chronic Disease

Per the Alzheimer’s Association, there are over 5 million people in the U.S. over 65 years old with this devastating disease. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes thinking and memory issues, as well as behavior changes that eventually affect an adult’s work, family and social relationships. Even basic activities of daily living become problematic.

 

Chronic Conditions in Alzheimer’s Patients

People with AD in the U.S. have chronic health issues just the same as other older adults. In fact, people with dementia usually suffer from at least one other chronic disease or health condition. Other common medical problems include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, chronic skin ulcers, and retinal disorders.

 

Managing Health

Memory loss, lack of judgment and inability to reason makes one’s own health care management impossible. An AD patient won’t be able to safely follow pharmaceutical or nutritional instructions and they also won’t recognize when conditions are worsening.

 

Caregivers Can Help

As a caregiver of an AD patient, you may be able to lower the discomfort from chronic disease by overseeing the older patient’s safety and nutrition. You can also make provisions for adequate exercise and sleep. Here are some tips:

  • Be sure living areas are safe. Since falls may be common, it’s a good idea to secure a grab bar in at least the bath area. A shower bench will allow the adult to be safely seated during a shower.

  • Provide healthy food. The elderly patient needs healthy foods, especially for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.

  • Encourage adequate exercise. Chronic conditions become more challenging as the disease worsens. Perhaps the patient can use a stationary bike, exercise balls, or stretch bands, or just take a walk with you.

  • Resolve sleep issues if possible. Sleeping through the night can be challenging for seniors with AD. Create a comfortable sleep environment to promote restful sleep, with regular sleeping and waking times.

 

Additional Things to Consider

Someone with AD can’t give details about additional symptoms or problems with medications. Remember that Alzheimer’s patients can’t tell you if something hurts so you need to pay attention as to whether there are noticeable signs of pain or discomfort.

 

Consult with the AD patient’s medical specialist for information and additional help. When working with an older adult suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, surround yourself with others who care, too.

 

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