Helping Anxiety With Alzheimer’s Disease

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2022

Alzheimer’s disease has many stages.  The first being the forgetful stage. 

This stage is sometimes playful.  Many jokes are made in an effort to help cover the periods of forgetfulness,  and the people around you can actually make it less stressful by engaging in conversation.  The words being spoken give comfort, and being silly helps the anxiety.  At this point you hope this is an occasional not permanent lapse in cognition.  In this stage you rely on others to finish your sentences, or by following others with daily tasks but you are still able to perform ADL’s the way you always have with an occasional set back here and there.  Your personality remains the same, so you can still have fun and enjoy your life.


I believe that the middle stage is definitely the hardest for you and for those around you.  In this stage there is a tremendous increase in anxiety.  This anxiety occurs because you lose the ability to live and function in the present.  You can still recognize those around you but remembering names is not easy.  The simple everyday tasks are hard for you to remember.  There is no recall with things like:  Have you showered today?  Did you take your medications?  Did you consume any food?  The short term memory isn’t present anymore but you can find great comfort in talking about people and things that really occurred many years ago.  It is really hard to imagine how horrifying that would be.  This is the stage that is so frightening for our loved ones and this fear and anxiety has a direct impact on our personality.  There are those people that get very agitated and nasty, some get depressed, and others just quietly sit in a corner as a result of not even knowing what to do with themselves.


So you know all the stories mom has told you about growing up and repeatedly talks or hums her favorite song, and you have memories of hearing Frank Sinatra when mom was moving about the house. Maybe Uncle Joe owned his own bakery in his past, or Aunt Jean worked in a flower shop for forty years. The more the Alzheimer's progresses in this stage, the more anxious they will become.  Frustrated not remembering names or tasks you have asked them to complete.  Being afraid of what’s to come, and feeling all alone due to memories fading away.  There are some things I would like to share with you to help with your frustration of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and helping with the anxiety they are experiencing.  Previously we talked about Mom loving Frank Sinatra so download some of his music and play it softly in whatever room Mom spends her day in.  As far as Uncle Joe goes, baking cookies, or an apple pie will do wonders for calming him down.  If baking is not an option, they do sell candles of all the aromas of baked goods, but of course not to leave candles unattended with someone with Alzheimer’s.  It has been my own personal experience that the smell of lavender is very soothing.  You can spray in the room and also give their pillow a quick spritz before bed.  If you are talented enough to make things you can make an essential oil recipe for anxiety and put it into a roller bottle and rub it on the inside of their wrists.  As far as Aunt Jean goes, just having some fresh flowers in a vase nearby, or taking her to walk in flower gardens would be very soothing to her.  These of course are only a few examples of ways to help ease the anxiety.  The last tip I can pass along is any child you can bring to visit your loved one will make them very happy and content.


You will need to spend as much time as you can with them at this stage.  When they are relaxed there is little fear and you can enjoy them with things that they used to do, things that make them feel whole again.  Laughter is the best medicine, and just talking while holding their hand is extremely comforting for all.    The final stage of this terrible disease is usually spent in bed, non-verbal, needing total assistance with all of your activities of daily living,  and needing to be fed.  You can still see the fear on their faces and the things I shared with you all will ultimately help to calm them down and make them less afraid.  Doing these things for your loved ones will provide them the dignity they deserve at the end of their lives and to know there is no more anxiety and no more fear makes all the caregivers feel much better.


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