"Alzheimer's often makes routine daily activities a challenge. Consider these simple tips to make everyday activities easier.By Mayo Clinic staff
- Find the right routine. Some people like showers, while others prefer tub baths. Time of day is often important as well. Experiment with morning, afternoon and evening bathing.
- Make it comfortable. Make sure the bathroom is warm, and keep towels or bath blankets handy.
- Keep it private. If your loved one is self-conscious about being naked, provide a towel for cover when he or she gets in and out of the shower or tub.
- Help your loved one feel in control. Explain each step of the bathing process to help your loved one understand what's happening.
- Be flexible. If daily bathing is traumatic, alternate showers or tub baths with sponge baths.
- Establish a routine. Help your loved one get dressed at the same time each day.
- Limit choices. Offer no more than two clothing options each morning. Empty closets and drawers of inappropriate or rarely worn clothes that could complicate the decision.
- Provide direction. Lay out pieces of clothing in the order they should be put on — or hand out clothing one piece at a time as you provide short, simple dressing instructions.
- Be patient. Rushing the dressing process could cause anxiety.
- Consider your loved one's tastes and dislikes. Don't argue if your loved one doesn't want to wear a particular garment or chooses the same outfit repeatedly.
- Eat at regular times. Don't rely on your loved one to ask for food. He or she might not respond to hunger or thirst.
- Use white dishes. Plain white dishes can make it easier for your loved one to distinguish the food from the plate. Similarly, use placemats of a contrasting color to help your loved one distinguish the plate from the table. Stick with solid colors, though. Patterned plates, bowls and linens might be confusing.
- Offer foods one at a time. If your loved one is overwhelmed by an entire plateful of food, place just one type of food at a time on the plate. You could also offer several small meals throughout the day, rather than three larger ones.
- Cut food into bite-sized portions. Finger foods are even easier — but avoid foods that can be tough to chew and swallow, such as nuts, popcorn and raw carrots.
- Limit distractions. Turn off the television, radio and telephone ringer. Put your cellphone or pager on vibrate. You might also clear the table of any unnecessary items.
- Eat together. Make meals an enjoyable social event so that your loved one looks forward to the experience.
- Make the bathroom easy to find. Post a sign on the bathroom door that says "Toilet," or post a picture of a toilet. At night, use night lights to help your loved one find the way to the bathroom.
- Be alert for signs. Restlessness or tugging on clothing might signal the need to use the toilet.
- Set a schedule. Schedule bathroom breaks every few hours, before and after meals, and before bedtime. Don't wait for your loved one to ask.
- Make clothing easy to open or remove. Replace zippers and buttons with fabric fasteners. Choose pants with elastic waists.
- Take accidents in stride. Praise toileting success — and offer reassurance when accidents happen.