January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Alzheimer’s disease is most common in seniors over the age of 65 and upwards of 500,000 people are living with dementia in Canada today. You are not alone. For people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, we are here to support families and residents living with this disease.

Thanks to the great science of medicine, our parents are living longer than ever before. Most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. That burden falls to their baby boomer children.

Dementia changes everything. This means that we need to change everything we do in order to keep everyone, residents and staff, safe and in a setting where they can shine.

When caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia, it’s very important that one understands their diagnosis and what care options they may need with time. The effect on your entire family can be overwhelming, At View Global Services we offer help with strategies to cope with this disease with the use of the well-trained Professionals.

Alzheimer’s disease can last more than a decade before we realize that one has it.

Alzheimer’s disease tends to develop slowly and gradually worsens over several years. Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease affects most areas of your brain. Memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality and movement can all be affected by the disease.

There are five stages associated with Alzheimer’s disease: preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function.

This progressive disease begins with mild memory loss and can lead to the loss of ability to communicate with others. Some may also experience confusion, a decrease in focus and concentration, and difficulty completing simple tasks.

Some strategies for coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis include:

  1. Sharing responsibility

To help a loved one with Alzheimer’s and dementia, they will need help with daily tasks and a tremendous amount of support. Making a list of responsibilities or roles for certain family members to provide care for this individual will help them feel comfortable and loved.

  1. Being patient

Alzheimer’s is an adjustment and can be challenging for anyone, especially the one who was diagnosed with it. The main thing to remember is to be patient and support them emotionally, to best ensure they don’t become overwhelmed.

  1. Communicating in a way they understand

Helping your friend, loved one, etc. with Alzheimer’s communicate can provide relief and comfort. Those with living with it may experience memory loss that can prevent them from remembering a loved one or important events.

It’s crucial to learn how to properly communicate by not correcting them but acknowledging what they’ve said and moving on.

Tips for Daily Life

Coping skills will help you handle day-to-day challenges, maximize your independence and live a meaningful life with your diagnosis.

 Accepting changes

Things you once did easily will become increasingly difficult, such as maintaining a schedule or managing money. Some people may try to cover up their difficulties to protect themselves and their family from embarrassment. Or, they may be reluctant to ask for help. Trying to do what others in the early stage have called “faking it” and covering up errors can be a great source of stress. Accepting changes in your abilities and adapting new coping skills can help you restore balance to your life and give you a sense of accomplishment in your abilities as you continue to live with the disease.

Developing effective coping strategies can help you:

Remain engaged and active

Respond to challenges that will help maximize your independence and well-being

Gain a sense of control over your life

Keep in mind that what works well for one person, may not work for another. And, strategies that work for you one day, may not work the next. When developing your coping strategies, try different ones to find those that work best for you. The more flexible you can be, the better you can fine-tune your strategies to help with each situation.

Creating a coping strategy

Maximize your independence

Develop strategies to help you live day by day.

You may already be aware of changes in your ability to complete daily tasks that once came naturally to you. Developing your own coping strategies doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simplify the process by focusing on these three steps:

Identify: Make a list of tasks that have become more challenging.

Focus on developing coping strategies for your more challenging tasks. For example, if you are forgetting to take your medications, but have no problem remembering to do the laundry, focus on creating medication reminder strategies first.
Prioritize: Determine if the task is necessary.

Ask yourself if the task you are trying to accomplish will help you get to your goal. For example, if paying bills has become more difficult for you, can someone help you write out each check? If the answer is yes, consider asking someone to help. You can remain in charge of signing each check. 

Strategize: Find the solution that works best for you.

For example, if you are having difficulty cooking dinner, try simplifying the process by using a crockpot. You can make a full meal without spending a lot of time figuring out the cooking process.

daily living tips

Set realistic goals and focus on what you can do today. Set realistic expectations for yourself and use the skills you have to be successful in dealing with challenging tasks. Some tasks may become too difficult for you to complete even with reminder aids. Reduce stress by asking family or friends for help, if needed.

Develop a daily routine. Make a daily plan to keep track of the few tasks you want to accomplish each day. Having a schedule can reduce the time you spend figuring out what needs to be done and when and makes you more successful in accomplishing your goals and limiting mistakes.

Approach one task at a time and don’t get stuck. Give yourself enough time to complete a task. Don’t pressure yourself to succeed. If something becomes too difficult, take a break and try again later. Spending time to change something you cannot control can be a waste of energy and can prevent you from focusing your attention on what you can control.

Know that you have more than one chance to solve most problems. It’s not uncommon to have to try different strategies to achieve your overall goal. Assess what could have been done differently and adjust as needed.

Recognize the triggers that cause you stress. What are the triggers that cause you anxiety, worry or stress? For example, if others are hurrying you, explain what you are trying to accomplish and ask that they provide you the time needed to be successful. Knowing what causes stress allows you to make plans or decisions about the type of activities/tasks you choose to participate in.

Use your sources of strength. Family, friends, prayer, your inner strength, pets — all these sources can get you through hard times, even as you face daily challenges or setbacks.

Accepting help from others

View Global staff members work with families and individuals affected by the disease to ensure the best care is provided.

A common concern among individuals living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s is loss of independence. You may feel that by asking others for help, you will lose your sense of self or become dependent. While it may seem like a sign of weakness at first, asking for help when you need it may help you maintain your independence and remain in control.

Individuals living with the disease, share their personal insights about the daily strategies they use to address such challenges as managing schedules, taking medications, dealing with changes in relationships and overcoming stigma. Their experiences can help you to think creatively as you develop your own strategies for living with the disease.

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