INTRODUCTION

Managing a disease at home is extremely important to the sick person’s well-being. After
all, care does not stop even after he or she is discharged from the hospital and away from the
watchful eyes of doctors and nurses. Whether home management of a disease or condition entails
giving prescribed medication at the proper time and dose or involves more advanced procedures
such as irrigating and dressing a surgical wound, it plays a big role in the sick person’s recovery.1
Alzheimer’s disease is managed at home most of the time. People with Alzheimer’s
disease are rarely taken to see the doctor for the disease itself; most often they need a doctor’s
attention for other conditions that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as malnutrition
and respiratory problems.2 There is no cure for it as of yet, so management of the disease
involves supportive care. This means that the person with Alzheimer’s disease is prescribed
medications to make him more comfortable and independent.3 Supportive care also involves
providing a safe environment for the Alzheimer’s patient, keeping him oriented to his
surroundings and providing a routine that he can follow consistently. Caring for a person with
Alzheimer’s at home is important because the goal is to give him comfort and prevent any
accidents that may happen as a result of his dementia.
TAKING CARE OF KIDS AT HOME AS AN ALZHEIMER'S PATIENT
People who develop Alzheimer’s disease are usually 65 years old or older, so if they do
have children they would be grown up by then. But there is a form of the disease called earlyonset Alzheimer’s. Five to ten percent of Alzheimer’s patients develop it at an earlier age, with
people starting to show symptoms of the disease as early as age 20. 4,5

Raising kids in general, even when the parents are healthy, is a difficult task as it involves
a lot of time and effort; thus raising them while coping with Alzheimer’s disease presents several
challenges. These challenges may include how the Alzheimer’s patient will ensure his personal
safety as well as the safety of his children; how to explain to them that they may develop the
disease later in life; and how to cope with the mental and emotional stress brought about by
changes in the way the family works once symptoms of the disease begin to show.
Though there are no set rules on how parents should raise their children, experts on the
field agree on some broad principles, namely: preparation for the parenting role, prediction of
how negative things happen in the parent-child relationship and avoiding them, planning and
practicing positive interactions, and learning to thank, appreciate, and praise children. 6
When a person who has Alzheimer’s disease has to raise children the above principles
still apply. But studies have shown that the children of people who have Alzheimer’s disease tend
to be sad, afraid, angry, and resentful; not necessarily toward the parent with Alzheimer’s disease
but to their current situation in general. They feel sad for themselves and the parent with
Alzheimer’s disease, they fear the embarrassment that a parent with Alzheimer’s disease may
bring, they are angry that they must adjust to things that most of their friends and peers do not
experience, and they are resentful because they cannot do certain things (like invite people over
and have house-parties) because of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease.7 Therefore the
parent with Alzheimer’s disease on the early stages must make steps to address these issues,
ensure that the children have a strong emotional support system, and must show patience and
understanding toward them and what they are going through.

THINGS YOU CAN DO AT HOME TO TREAT ALZHEIMER'S
Reading
A person with Alzheimer’s disease retains reading skills and often performs better in
reading tests than other people who have suffers from a different cognitive problem, such as
people who have had strokes.8
Reading serves as a means for both education and entertainment. For a person with
Alzheimer’s disease both functions of reading are vital.
Reading for Education
An Alzheimer’s patient, if diagnosed early, has the benefit of time before the more severe
and debilitating symptoms of the disease are felt. Some of this time should be used to learning
about the disease and what steps to make in preparation of the disease. Often, people read about
the disease after they have been diagnosed with it to understand the symptoms that they are
currently going through and to quell any fears they may have. Learning what to expect and how
to prepare for them, knowing what things to ask the doctor, and anticipating future needs gives
the Alzheimer’s patient more peace of mind.
It is important to note, though, that the support system; the friends and family of the
person with the disease, must also read and be educated about it. Even the younger members of
the family must be given some information so as not to shock or surprise them when the more
severe symptoms of the disease begin to show.

Reading for Entertainment
All people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease experience fear, anger, and depression.9
These stresses are most effectively addressed by a combination of counseling- talking to other
people to vent feelings, and by performing some amusing diversionary activity like reading.
Light, inspiring, and enjoyable books serve to entertain and to lift the Alzheimer’s patient’s
mood.
Frequency
A person with Alzheimer’s disease should devote at least a few hours per day for reading
and other diversionary activities. The educational and entertainment benefits of the activity are
vital, though there is currently no evidence linking reading to the treatment of the disease.
Swimming
Studies have shown that structured physical activities specifically tailored for
Alzheimer’s patients to be very beneficial in maintaining physical fitness and health.10 A person
with Alzheimer’s disease can still engage in activities such as swimming as long as every
precaution is taken to ensure his safety and the safety of the people around him. This involves
finding a swimming facility that has trained staff able to cater to people with conditions such as
Alzheimer’s.
Swimming as a form of exercise helps the Alzheimer’s patient to retain a certain degree
of physical fitness. It strengthens the muscles but does not introduce too much impact to them,
unlike aerobic routines or weight lifting. Swimming as a physical exercise should be performed
about twice or thrice a week provided that the person with Alzheimer’s disease does not have

other pre-existing medical conditions that prevents him from swimming. Thus getting a doctor’s
advice is important before beginning a swimming routine or any other form of fitness regimen
for that matter.
Watching TV
Watching television programs is one of the most common forms of cheap and accessible
entertainment today. It serves to amuse and in some cases also to educate. There is no reason
why a person with Alzheimer’s disease should not engage in this activity.
A disadvantage of watching TV is inactivity and sedentariness. Watching too much TV
won’t necessarily cause problems physically, aside from eye strain, but inactivity for long
periods of time will.
Too Much TV and Alzheimer’s Disease
A few years ago controversial results of a study by researchers from Case Western
Reserve University Hospital of Medicine and the University Hospitals of Cleveland were
published. The study stipulated that there is a link between watching too much television and
developing Alzheimer’s disease. The result of the study was gleaned from surveys and interviews
of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.11 This research is highly criticized by many experts and up
to now no hard evidence proving that watching too much television really causes Alzheimer’s
disease has been discovered.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ALZHEIMER'S RELATED STRESS
Stress cannot be entirely avoided in the course of a person’s life. Stressors are
everywhere and people must find ways to properly deal with them. There are general ways to

relieve stress and they include things like breathing exercises, meditation, low-impact physical
exercise like Tai-Chi or Yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation. These things have been
discussed extensively by various authors and they are proven ways to increase relaxation and
proved a feeling of calm to a person.
The stress of Alzheimer’s disease, if not managed, will make living with it difficult. This
applies not only to the person suffering from it but also to his or her support system as well.
Family, friends, and caregivers share the stresses that Alzheimer’s disease brings. The
importance of relieving this stress is critical to the mental health of everyone involved. There
have been cases where children of people with Alzheimer’s disease end up needing psychiatric
care due to the unresolved trauma and stress that the experience of dealing with a loved one with
Alzheimer’s has brought them.7

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March 6, 2001. Accessed June 20, 2011.
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