Using Mindfulness in Alzheimer's Care

Practicing Mindfulness in Alzheimer’s Care

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

Mindfulness is a technique used to reduce stress when caring for an elderly loved one living with Alzheimer’s. Learning and regularly practicing this method can make caregiving more positive and enhance the relationship between seniors and their family members. Mindfulness can also be implemented in other aspects of daily life.

Educate Yourself

Once your loved one receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, learn about the stages of the disorder. Familiarize yourself with common behaviors and thought processes that may lead to episodes. This way, you will be prepared for what might occur. 

Without proper training in Alzheimer’s care, it may be difficult to provide the care your loved one needs and deserves. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Cincinnati, Ohio, home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Learn the Basics of Mindfulness

Mindfulness basically involves becoming immersed and focused on the moment. Practice the technique throughout the day while busy with daily activities. When outside, clear your mind. Glance at the sky, listen to the sounds created by people, vehicles, and wildlife. Notice the colors around you and take in the aromas. Feel the wind on your face, and let calmness rise within your being. 

Perform Mindfulness Exercises

Enhance your ability to be mindful by meditating, praying, or taking a relaxing stroll. Concentrate on being in the moment with a clear mind. The more frequently you practice conscious mindfulness, the faster your brain can learn the behavior. 

Apply Mindfulness Practically

Regardless of the activity you are engaged in with your loved one, focus on the moment. Resist the urge to rush the activity or try to divert your loved one’s attention elsewhere. Have a pleasant conversation and hear what your loved one has to say. Dismiss thoughts of other chores or responsibilities you need to accomplish during the day. If your loved one becomes agitated, fearful, or suspicious, do not pass judgment. Try to evaluate what might have triggered the behavior to reduce the possibility of a recurrence. Consider whether your loved one may need to use the bathroom, has pain, or has another need he or she cannot appropriately convey. 

Be aware of your emotions in the moment. Give yourself permission to feel positive and negative emotions. However, do not react adversely. Suppressing emotions often leads to anxiety from festering negativity. Try releasing your frustrations and other unpleasant feelings by documenting the situation in a journal or creating a painting. Share your experiences with others, which may provide the possibility of gaining knowledge. Let others help with caregiving, which could also alleviate stress. 

Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Cincinnati families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home.

Researchers understand the challenges that accompany caring for a family member with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Caregivers are more susceptible to anxiety, depression, generalized fatigue, impaired immunity, and other medical concerns. Scientists from Germany’s Bender Institute of Neuroimaging and the University of Massachusetts Medical School evaluated MRI scans of 33 volunteers. Half of the people attended weekly mindfulness sessions. After two weeks, all underwent follow-up MRI scans. Images of the volunteers who participated in the mindfulness training demonstrated larger levels of gray matter density and activity in the hippocampus, which involves emotional control, memory, and learning. Gray matter activity also increased in other areas of the brain.

If your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another cognitive disorder and you need additional help, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Cincinnati, OH, dementia care professionals are available around the clock to help seniors with memory-related conditions age in place safely and comfortably. At Home Care Assistance, we understand the needs of seniors with dementia and the unique challenges they face as the disease progresses. To hire high-quality in-home care for your elderly loved one, call us at 513.891.2273 today.