Everyone experiences forgetfulness from time to time. We misplace our keys, mix up song lyrics, or can’t recall a restaurant’s name. When you have a chronic disease that affects your memory, however, forgetting can have serious consequences. Forgetfulness is the case with Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain and for those who have it, they require round-the-clock supervision. People with Alzheimer’s don’t just lose their memory; they also experience a decline in many cognitive functions. The condition slowly kills brain cells, reducing brain function and a person’s ability to think, behave normally, and socialize with others. While there is, unfortunately, no cure for it, medications can slow the progression of the disease.
For those with Alzheimer’s, taking their medicine regularly can relieve some of the symptoms and delay the degeneration of cells to allow them to preserve brain function and maintain independence for some time. However, the very nature of the disease can make it hard for them to stay on track with medication. They may miss successive doses, or become aggressive towards those who attempt to administer them.
If you are caring for a loved one or patient who has Alzheimer’s and struggling to give them their medicines, here are some things you can do:
Pick a time during the day when they are most agreeable
Each person will exhibit Alzheimer’s symptoms differently. They will go through different moods throughout the day, including moments of complete normalcy and agreeableness. Beware of triggers that make them aggressive or angry, whether it is from hunger, seeing people, or doing certain activities. Observe their pattern of behavior, noting times when they are most calm. The best time to give them their medicine is when they are relaxed and responsive.
Follow a consistent daily schedule
When you understand how they behave, you can plot a daily regimen that includes giving the patient their dose of medicine. Consult their physician about contraindications, as some medicines should be consumed on a full stomach. Consider using a medicine tracker app like MedManage to send reminders and to notify you in case you missed a dosage. Make a point of having medication time at the same time every day, and in the same area that is free of distractions and stress triggers.
Encourage them to it themselves
People with Alzheimer’s struggle to control their emotions. One of the reasons they can become angry is because they lose their independence. The more they can continue doing for themselves, the more empowered they may feel. Prepare the medicine but allow them to participate in taking it. You can encourage and assure them through the process, however, allow them to do most of the tasks themselves.
Don’t make it a big deal
Stressful situations can make sick people more aggressive and rebellious. It is important to remain calm throughout the process. Avoid making an ordeal out of taking the medication. Don’t allow others in the household to watch or egg on the patient, since they may feel pressure and resist. Treat it as something normal that happens every day, and make as little fuss as possible.
Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that will slowly transform the people you love into complete strangers. It can place an extreme emotional and physical burden on a caregiver, but the toll it takes on someone with the condition is much worse. They are probably feeling lost, frustrated, and helpless as their abilities slowly slip from their grasp. More than anything, maintain your resolve to keep them on track with their medication. With patience, you can give them the best possible chance to preserve what function they have left.
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