A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s

By National Institute on Aging

Eating and Alzheimer’s

Eating can be a challenge. Some people with AD want to eat all the time, while others have to be encouraged to maintain a good diet.  

  • Ensure a quiet, calm atmosphere for eating. Limiting noise and other distractions may help the person focus on the meal.
  • Provide a limited number of choices of food and serve small portions. You may want to offer several small meals throughout the day in place of three larger ones. 
  • Use straws or cups with lids to make drinking easier.
  • Substitute finger foods if the person struggles with utensils. Using a bowl instead of a plate also may help.
  • Have healthy snacks on hand. To encourage eating, keep the snacks where they can be seen.
  • Visit the dentist regularly to keep mouth and teeth healthy.

Activities and Alzheimer’s

What to do all day? Finding activities that the person with AD can do and is interested in can be a challenge. Building on current skills generally works better than trying to teach something new. 

  • Don’t expect too much. Simple activities often are best, especially when they use current abilities.
  • Help the person get started on an activity. Break the activity down into small steps and praise the person for each step he or she completes.
  • Watch for signs of agitation or frustration with an activity. Gently help or distract the person to something else.
  • Incorporate activities the person seems to enjoy into your daily routine and try to do them at a similar time each day.
  • Take advantage of adult day services, which provide various activities for the person with AD, as well as an opportunity for caregivers to gain temporary relief from tasks associated with caregiving. Transportation and meals often are provided.

Exercise and Alzheimer’s

Incorporating exercise into the daily routine has benefits for both the person with AD and the caregiver. Not only can it improve health, but it also can provide a meaningful activity for both of you to share. 

  • Think about what kind of physical activities you both enjoy, perhaps walking, swimming, tennis, dancing, or gardening. Determine the time of day and place where this type of activity would work best.
  • Be realistic in your expectations. Build slowly, perhaps just starting with a short walk around the yard, for example, before progressing to a walk around the block.
  • Be aware of any discomfort or signs of overexertion. Talk to the person’s doctor if this happens.
  • Allow as much independence as possible, even if it means a less-than-perfect garden or a scoreless tennis match.
  • See what kinds of exercise programs are available in your area. Senior centers may have group programs for people who enjoy exercising with others. Local malls often have walking clubs and provide a place to exercise when the weather is bad.
  • Encourage physical activities. Spend time outside when the weather permits. Exercise often helps everyone sleep better.

 

APA Reference
on Aging, N. (2006). A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/a-caregivers-guide-to-alzheimers/000197
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.