Beginner's Guide to Alzheimer's Care

Beginner’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s disease twists life into a tangle.

Things don’t look, sound, smell, taste or feel quite the same. Remembering new information is tough. Following familiar routines is challenging.

Some people with Alzheimer’s grow quiet to hide their confusion. Bewildered, they may shrink away – or suddenly strike out in anger.

As caregivers, we don’t know how to react. We want to help, but sometimes we seem to make things worse.

I want to show you how people living with Alzheimer’s experience the world. Let you see it through their eyes. Feel it in their skin. Walk it at their slower pace. So you can provide more comforting care.

More than Memory Care

As caregivers, we have a lot to learn about how Alzheimer’s affects the brain – and, with it, the entire mind and body.

Alzheimer’s isn’t just forgetful. It’s “unreasonable.” It chips away at the ability to plan or solve problems. It makes simple jobs overwhelming, especially sequential tasks – those that have to be done in order:

  • Planning for dinner.
  • Keeping a checkbook.
  • Ordering at a restaurant.
  • Making a sandwich.
  • Getting dressed.
  • Completing a bedtime routine.

Poor balance, coordination and judgment eventually make it hard to get around. Stairs, area rugs, stoves and traffic present new dangers. Weakened muscles and motor skills create problems, too – buttons and zippers complicate a trip to the toilet, favorite foods might be choking hazards.

The world is a bit unsettling. With new sensitivities, normal temperatures or noises can seem unbearable. The eyes and brain deceive us – what we see isn’t what we get.

Worst of all, Alzheimer’s makes it difficult to find the words to communicate fear or pain – or to be comforted by logical explanations.

Feeling at Home with Alzheimer’s Care

We travel with our loved ones through this altered world. We try to support their changing abilities, preferences and needs along the way.

You probably began your caregiving journey at home – Mom’s or Dad’s. Maybe the trek has carried your loved one into your own home. In time, as things continue to change, you may find a different setting suits you and your loved one.

Whatever the setting, both of you always should feel at home.

“At home” is an emotionally charged phrase. It may remind you of a sense of obligation to tackle caregiving responsibilities as a family, within your own house.

But “at home” also reminds us of the most important promise we give our loved ones. We pledge to do our best to make them feel safe, dignified and at ease  – as they felt in their own homes before dementia came to stay.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

I’d like to help you and your loved one feel more at home with better Alzheimer’s care.

That’s why I’m introducing a new series for our A Better Way blog: The Beginner’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Care.

  • It’s full of useful information for any family member or professional who provides hands-on care.
  • It can help you evaluate alternative settings if and when the demands of in-home care become more than you can handle.
  • It supports you as an advocate for your loved one and a partner with his or her professional caregivers.

[su_box title=”Follow Us!” box_color=”#ffffff” title_color=”#071F55″]You live a busy life – we’ve made it easy for you to receive updates to this series.

  • Check in at (You can catch a glimpse of day-to-day Alzheimer’s care in our own community there, too.)
  • Subscribe to receive our email newsletter. We promise not to sell your information – and never to pester you with spam. But we will let you know when we’ve published new posts and other useful information.
  • Join the conversation in the social spaces we’ve created for caregivers.
  • Have other questions? Need more information? Our Community Liaison, Courtney Minter, has broad network of providers and a comprehensive knowledge of memory care resources. She offers skilled and sensitive counsel in your search for answers. Feel free to email her.

However you choose to keep in touch, be sure to watch for our next installment, Step 1: Learn.