Senior Care Blog Wayland and Weston

Helping a Senior with Alzheimer’s Keep Up with Their Personal Care Tasks

By Denise Roskamp

Senior Care in Concord MA

One of the greatest challenges that you will face as a family caregiver for an elderly adult who is coping with Alzheimer’s disease is the responsibility to balance ensuring that their needs are managed properly and their need for independence and autonomy. Even as they progress through their disease, expressing their independence is important for maintaining their mental and emotional health, and supporting a better quality of life. One of the areas where this can be particularly challenging, but also extremely important, is their personal care tasks. Handling tasks such as brushing their teeth, dressing, and grooming themselves is something that they need to do daily and helping them to manage them on their own can support an improved sense of self-esteem and control.

Use these tips to help your senior with Alzheimer’s disease keep up with their personal care tasks:

• Establish a routine. Set up a routine that keeps them approaching and managing these tasks in the same order at the same time of day each day can help your parent better predict what to do and understand it when it comes. This also means that you can select a time when they are at their best so that resistance is less and they are less likely to become frustrated and combative.

• Modify tasks. Supporting independence does not necessarily mean having your parent do everything completely on their own. Modifying tasks so that they can accomplish part of them on their own can have much the same benefit. Try putting toothpaste on their toothbrush for them and then encouraging them to brush their own teeth or brushing the tangles out of their hair and then encouraging them to finish the brushing on their own.

• Demonstrate. Even with guidance and explanation a senior in further stages of the disease might not understand how to handle personal care tasks. Demonstrate these tasks for them so that they are able to follow along with you but still do the task on their own. For example, rather than brushing their teeth for them, brush your teeth along with them. Take each step slowly and let them mimic it and then move forward to the next step until they complete the entire process.

If your aging parent has progressed to a point in their Alzheimer’s disease where they are facing more challenges and limitations than you feel you can handle successfully and effectively, now may be the ideal time for you to consider senior care for them. A senior home care services provider can evaluate your loved one’s needs, understand their specific challenges, and create an approach to care, support, and assistance specifically tailored to helping them address these issues in the way that is right for them. This can mean guiding them through daily tasks, modifying tasks to help make it possible for them to take on more of them on their own, and giving them the support that they need to stay safe, healthy, and comfortable, but also to maintain more independence and a higher quality of mental and emotional health and well-being as they age in place.