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Best Ways to Support A Family Member with Alzheimer’s

Simple changes to daily life can make the world of a difference for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease.

By Sherry CampbellPublished 4 years ago 4 min read

When my grandmother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, my parents and I felt helpless. What could we do to make things easier for her? How quickly will her cognitive decline happen? How could we preserve her quick wit and sense of humor? Was there a way to slow her memory loss?

Alzheimer’s disease presents challenges for both patients and their caregivers. Daily life in our household changed forever. At first, it was mildly chaotic; plagued by our individual fears and panic, we fought about the right course of action. We all wanted the best for her-- the problem was, we didn’t know how to make that happen.

One year and much trial and error later, we’ve found what works for us. Our home has found consistency, togetherness, and hope. We may not be able to cure Alzheimer’s disease, but we have found small ways to slow my grandmother’s cognitive decline and memory loss. Simple changes to daily life can make the world of a difference for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease, and for those who love them.

Create a Routine

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has enjoyed a hot green tea by her kitchen table every morning, followed by a stroll over to the couch to watch the morning news. We made this our starting point when developing a household routine. Incorporating scheduled times for daily walks, cleaning, cooking, and reading has helped my grandmother to continue navigating daily life independently despite cognitive decline.

Having a consistent routine for daily life creates a sense of normalcy. It also prevents Alzheimer’s patients from feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks, especially as their memory loss increases. That being said, we’ve also learned that it’s okay to break away from the schedule once in a while— especially for movie nights and spontaneous ice cream sundaes!

Engage Them in Conversations

One of the best ways to support a family member with Alzheimer’s is to continue to treat them like a person. My grandmother is sassy, fun-loving, and enjoys picking on dad; her diagnosis didn’t change any of that. Continue socializing with loved ones as you usually would. Invite them into conversations, and ask for their opinions and ideas. Not only does this slow memory loss, but it also reminds them that their identity has not changed.

Don’t talk around people with Alzheimer’s, and don’t hide truths from them, especially when it comes to caregiving decisions. My grandmother was our best tool in taking care of her, because she knew what was important to her, and what made her happy. After all, this is her daily life.

During a real low-point in our journey, my grandmother turned to one of her friends, who also has Alzheimer’s disease, for help. That was how we got in touch with his son, who was his caregiver, and learned about light therapy. Without open communication, we quite possibly could have missed out on the best practice we’ve yet discovered.

Invest in Their Future

The real turning point in our caregiving journey was when we discovered HomeoLux. HomeoLux is a safe, non-invasive light system that helps to slow cognitive decline and memory loss. Despite my initial skepticism-- could a product really do all that?-- we decided to order their BEACON40™ Solo for next to my grandmother’s kitchen table. Her morning tea time became all the more productive in rejuvenating her for the day ahead. I’m not going to lie-- I was shocked by the positive effects a light system could offer. The best part? They’re incredibly easy to use! Now, when I meet other caregivers, I immediately turn them to HomeoLux. It’s a game-changer!

Since then, we’ve added the BEACON40™ Surround to the living room as well. With more lights, the Surround is perfect for larger rooms. Plus, their sleek design makes the technology blend easily in modern spaces. The system provides functionality without disrupting a room’s design; instead, it subtly enhances the atmosphere.

Research suggests that light therapy is ideal for people with Alzheimer’s disease. HomeoLux’s products use cutting-edge science technology to create light systems like no other. Implementing these lights into my grandmother’s routine has been the biggest greatest positive influence on her daily life. A year after her diagnosis, my grandmother has experienced much less cognitive decline than we anticipated, and we thank HomeoLux for that.

Be Flexible

Full disclosure: not every day is going to be a good day. There are going to be days where you feel frustrated, confused, or even defeated. Watching a loved one experience cognitive decline is scary. These days, though, will pass. Having a tough day just means that you are human, and that you care.

Memory loss can be overwhelming. When a person with Alzheimer’s expresses frustration or confusion, listen. Hear what they are saying, and what they think they need. Do what you can in that moment to comfort and reassure them. This may look different every time, and that is okay.

The road to caregiving is not straight nor easy. It is a bit of trial runs, a bit of best efforts, a bit of tears, and a whole lot of love. When you feel stuck, remember why this journey is worth it. The memories you make during these days can— and should!— be positive ones that you can cherish for a lifetime.


About the Creator

Sherry Campbell

Second grade teacher by day, at home therapist for two middle school daughters by night.

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