Guest blogger Alicia Lawrence offers simple ideas to improve the quality of life of your loved one in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s.
Once you’ve gotten over the shock of your loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, your thoughts inevitably go from disbelief to the desire to do something, or at least mine did when my mother began forgetting things. I immediately began researching whether there was any way to stop the progression of this terrible disease.
I wish I could tell you that there’s a magic formula — eat right, exercise and do crosswords, eat only dark chocolate and green tea! Unfortunately, as we all know, there’s no magic cure. But there are methods that may work to slow down the disease’s progression in the short term, and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
Actually, doing crossword puzzles does help a little. Any sort of increased mental activity can help ward off the progression of Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain. If your loved one isn’t a gamer, it doesn’t have to be crosswords.
Engage their brain by encouraging them to read a book, write a story, play the piano or learn a new language. Heck, quiz them on the make and model of the kitchen cabinet hardware from their very first house or their grandchildren’s birthdates — anything to get that brain working.
Alzheimer’s is not caused by stress. But stress can exacerbate symptoms, and in the early stages of diagnosis it’s very difficult for patients to avoid stressful situations, such as informing family members and discussing plans for the future.
Do your best not to add to your loved one’s stress. Help establish routines that are both comforting and helpful for someone struggling with memory issues. Make sure that meals, baths and doctor’s appointments are all on a schedule. Get everyone who’s involved in care to get on board with the schedule to make things run smoothly.
Try Dietary Changes
The evidence on diet and disease is admittedly thin, but many think it’s worth trying different combinations of healthy, nourishing foods to try to reverse illnesses of all types, from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Several things seem to have had particular success for Alzheimer’s patients.
One is taking more antioxidants, including Vitamin E, which protects against cell damage and has been shown to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Folate has been shown to lessen the risk of getting Alzheimer’s, though researchers are still studying the link between slowing of symptoms and this B vitamin.
Gingko Balboa has also been linked to a slowdown of symptoms in early Alzheimer’s patients, though those studies are somewhat controversial. Still, doctors agree it probably can’t hurt to include gingko as a supplement along with other vitamins.
No matter how dreary the situation looks, never stop trying. Have fun and enjoy the company of your loved ones while they are still here. Sometimes laughter can be the best medicine of all.