Having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease can be devastating. Even though your loved one may be able to function just fine on their own currently, there will come a day when they will need supervision and constant care so they don't harm themselves or others. Here are three things you need to know about caring for your loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

1. Their eating habits will change. 

One thing that many caregivers don't realize about Alzheimer's is how much it can affect their loved one's eating habits. Not only can it cause them to not remember to eat, but it can lead them to become nervous and even scared of eating. For instance, if your loved one gets choked while eating, they can begin refusing solid foods. 

If your loved one experiences meal-related anxiety, you shouldn't try to push them to eat. Instead, you should look at meal replacement shakes in order to help supplement their nutrition until you can get them in to see their doctor.

Another option would be to try something like tomato soup or even baby food if they respond well to drinking a meal replacement shake. At least then they would still be getting food and proper nutrition.

Just be certain that you discuss your loved one's nutrition and dietary habits with a doctor at a clinic like Bethesda Health Care Facility as soon as possible after you notice a change in their eating habits. Their doctor can determine the best way to make sure they are getting all of the vitamins and other nutrients they need to live.

2. A routine is key for daily living.

When your loved one is first diagnosed with Alzheimer's, they may be able to learn new routines or adapt easily to change. As the disease progresses, this will no longer be the case. They will need a routine to every day. It could be a routine that you and your loved one came up with in the early stages of the disease, or it could be a routine from a period of their life long ago (i.e. the routine they used before going to work, during the military, etc.).

Either way, it is important that you understand their need for a routine in their daily living. Allowing them to continue with a specific routine every day enables your loved one to continue feeling somewhat independent. It can also help you to know what your loved one should be doing during a specific time of day.

3. You will need to make time for yourself outside of being a caregiver.

So often caregivers get caught up in taking care of their loved one with Alzheimer's that they forget to take care of themselves. Not only is it important for you to make time for your needs, but it is also important for your loved one.

Once you make the commitment to care for your loved one with Alzheimer's, you need to make a schedule of days or times when you will do something for yourself. Whether it's simply going to the park or going to the movies, you need to take time away from being a caregiver.

Some caregivers even benefit from attending support groups for people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's. You can discuss your concerns and even get tips about things that will help your loved one function better despite the disease.