Alzheimer's Disease

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of aging is the possibility of facing an ailment like Alzheimer's. Dealing with Alzheimer's and vision loss together may be something you don't even want to contemplate, but it does happen. If you've been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's, know that there are steps that you and your loved ones can take to minimize the problems that inevitably follow the onset of cognitive illness.

Stick with the tried and true. If you've never used a microwave oven or a cell phone, now is not the time to start. It's best to reinforce your skills with familiar devices and appliances.

Keep expectations in check. Alzheimer's affects memory and your ability to organize. Activities you once performed with confidence are going to get progressively more difficult, so don't get discouraged by mistakes. Take things one simple, deliberate step at a time.

Make appropriate adaptations to your home. Upgrades to make your living space safer and easier to navigate with regard to vision loss are even more critical when cognitive ability is a factor.

Specifically:

  • Avoid monochromatic color schemes. Create contrast between walls and flooring, walls and door and window trim, cabinets and hardware, etc.
  • Reduce glare. Light-colored, rather than white, walls can brighten rooms without adding too much distracting glare.
  • Designate room landmarks. A large sofa or distinctive cabinet can act as a centerpiece and provide you with your bearings.
  • Avoid busy patterns for walls, floors, and furniture.

If Your Loved One Has Advanced Alzheimer's

  • Watch for signs of agitation or frustration with an activity. Gently distract him or her to some other task, preferably something the person usually enjoys.
  • Establish a daily routine. Try to schedule key activities (meals, recreation) for the same times each day.
  • Be attentive to eating habits. Some people with Alzheimer's have to be encouraged to eat. You might try offering several small meals a day, rather than three large ones. Also, be sure that mealtime is quiet and free of distractions. If the person struggles with utensils, serve finger foods, and substitute bowls for plates.

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