Alzheimer Disease (cont.)
Self-Care at Home
Many individuals with Alzheimer's disease in the early and intermediate stages are able to live independently.
- With regular checks by a local relative or friend, they are able to live for some time without constant supervision.
- Those who have difficulty with activities of daily living require at least part-time help from a family caregiver or home health aide.
- Visiting nurses can make sure that these individuals take their medications as directed.
- Housekeeping help is available for those who cannot keep up with household chores.
Other affected individuals require closer supervision or more constant care.
- Round-the-clock help in the home is available, but it is expensive and out of reach for many.
- Individuals who require this level of care may need to move from their home to the home of a family caregiver or to an assisted living facility.
- These options give the individual the greatest possible independence and quality of life for as long as possible.
For those persons who are able to remain at home or retain some degree of independent living, it is very important that the surroundings be familiar and safe.
- The individual must be comfortable and safe if he or she is to continue to function independently.
- Changes may be needed in the home to make it safer.
- The balance between safety and independence must be assessed often. If the person's situation changes, changes in living situation may be needed.
Individuals with Alzheimer's disease should remain physically, mentally, and socially active as long as they are able.
- Daily physical exercise helps maximize body and mind functions and maintains a healthy weight. This can be as simple as a daily walk.
- The individual should engage in as much mental activity as he or she can handle. It is believed that mental activity can slow the progression of the disease. Puzzles, games, reading, and safe hobbies and crafts are good choices. These activities should ideally be interactive. They should be of an appropriate level of difficulty that the person does not become overly frustrated.
- Social interaction is stimulating and enjoyable for most people with early or intermediate stages of Alzheimer's disease. Most senior centers or community centers have scheduled activities that are suitable for those with dementia.
A balanced diet that includes low-fat protein foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables will help maintain a healthy weight and prevent malnutrition and constipation. An individual with AD should not smoke, both for health and safety reasons.
Nestor Galvez-Jimenez, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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