Caring for patients with Alzheimer’s becomes harder as the disease progresses.
Some Alzheimer’s patients can still live at home, but others will require ongoing medical treatment.
Alzheimer’s care will depend on which stage of the disease your loved one is in.
Always do your best to be kind, patient, and understanding when communicating with aging adults who have Alzheimer’s.
What Does it Mean to Care for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease?
Having a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can feel overwhelming. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis will change both your and your loved one’s life, and it can happen when you least expect it.
Also known as senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder that impacts memory, cognitive skills, and behavior. It typically affects people 65 and older. It is the most common type of dementia, and over 6 million Americans are affected by it.
Alzheimer’s is a serious condition that can decrease someone’s quality of life. There are various stages of the disease. To properly care for your loved one, it’s important to understand what each stage entails.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
As they progress through the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one’s care requirements will change.
The disease has three main stages. Family members—especially those who may serve as primary caregivers—should be aware of these stages so they can be well-prepared to accommodate the needs of their loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Sometimes called preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, early-stage Alzheimer’s can begin when you are in your 30s or 40s, but the symptoms are not really detectable at this stage.
Minor lapses in memory are common—like forgetting the name of someone you’ve just been introduced to or being unable to think of the right word during a conversation—but these often go unnoticed.
In the early stage, which can last years before any symptoms appear, a person is still able to live independently, which includes completing tasks like running their household, driving to work, and engaging in social settings. They will have very few limitations.
|What Are Some Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease? |
Everyone forgets things from time to time. But certain behaviors may be warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
Here’s what to watch out for:
Memory loss problems that begin affecting daily activities.
Not being able to keep track of the time or date.
Issues with balance.
Negligence in grooming or hygiene.
Mood and personality issues.
Losing items and accusing other people of stealing them.
Problems with speech and reading.
Remember, only a medical professional can make an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, so it’s important to speak to a doctor if you have concerns about yourself or your loved one.
As the disease progresses, more symptoms of dementia will become noticeable. This phase can last a few years, during which time your loved one may experience mood disturbances and need assistance with more tasks.
Here are some things people with middle-stage Alzheimer’s may need help with:
- The activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, and eating.
- Controlling their bladder or bowel movements.
- Wandering or getting lost.
- Mood and behavior changes, including having delusions or unfounded suspicions.
- Compulsive behavior, such as pacing or repeatedly washing hands.
In the early years of middle-stage Alzheimer’s, your loved one may be able to do tasks with minimal assistance, but they will need more extensive care over time.
It is not advisable for someone with many dementia symptoms to live on their own. The help of family members or professional caregivers will likely be required. Investing in a medical alert device is also an option.
If you’re considering becoming a caregiver to your parents, take a look at this article. You can also get in touch with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dementia Care Coordination program to learn more about caring for someone with the condition.
This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s, which typically lasts one or two years.
If your loved one has late-stage Alzheimer’s, you will need additional support to care for them. It can be a frustrating experience that’s worsened by communication difficulties.
People who have reached this stage of the disease may still be able to receive in-home care from family members, but they may also require home health aides or even home care nurses.
How Do I Care for Alzheimer’s Patients at Home?
First, you’ll have to determine the physical health of your loved one and find out which stage of Alzheimer’s they’re in. If the disease has progressed too far, they may require 24-hour care that you cannot provide.
Most older adults prefer to age in place, which entails growing old in their own homes. Only people in the early stage of Alzheimer’s will be able to live in their homes without supervision.
Whether you decide to live with your parents, or you hire someone to care for them, here are the steps you should take to ensure they remain safe and comfortable.
Steps for Caring for People with Alzheimer’s
Get into a routine
A structured schedule will ensure that family caregivers don’t feel too overwhelmed by all they need to do.
When you have set times for eating, going to the bathroom, exercising, and getting dressed, you’ll be able to handle a sudden mood swing or bout of stubbornness better.
A strict routine will also help dementia patients who are struggling with sleep issues.
Alzheimer’s patients frequently have trouble remembering things—including words. They may also lose their train of thought often.
This can make communicating painful and cause incredible frustration for your loved one. Here are some tips for easier communication:
- Speak kindly and make eye contact while addressing them.
- Give them enough time to respond.
- Show you care with a gentle touch or smile.
- Treat all outbursts of frustration with patience and understanding.
- Hold their hand while you speak.
- Use your normal voice when speaking—don’t use baby talk.
Encourage social interactions
Social engagement improves the memory and brain function of people with Alzheimer’s.
Engaging in social activities also helps to decrease stress and anxiety, in addition to reducing the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
Monitor Alzheimer’s behaviors
Because people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias often struggle to communicate effectively, it’s up to you to anticipate their needs.
By keeping a close eye on them, you can help keep them comfortable and ensure they don’t wander off, among other things.
Invest in medical alert devices
A medical alert device is a nifty, compact piece of technology that could be a real asset when it comes to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease—especially because people with dementia are two to eight times more likely to fall.
These electronic devices can be fitted around the wrist, worn as pendants, or clipped onto belts, and they keep the wearer safe by ensuring help is at hand during emergencies.
LogicMark offers a wide range of medical alert devices with great features to help simplify your life and give you peace of mind.
If your loved one becomes disoriented, falls, or injures themselves at any time, all they need to do is press a button on the device to connect to a caregiver, emergency responder, or family member.
All of our devices provide two-way communication and we offer both monitored and unmonitored devices. A monitored medical alert system will connect the wearer to a 24/7 center where an agent will call a family member or emergency responder on their behalf.
To ensure you’re never cut off from your loved ones during emergencies, all our devices come with rechargeable batteries. And they’re water-resistant as well.
Read our article to find out how to choose the medical alert device that’s perfect for your needs. You can also get in touch to learn more about how we can help your aging parent with Alzheimer’s live a safer, happier life.
Improve safety around the house
A fall prevention checklist will come in handy when improving the safety of your home.
Fall prevention is an important part of Alzheimer’s care, as people with dementia are more likely to fall and sustain fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Health
Caring for your parents is a great honor, but it can affect your own health.
Research has shown that caregivers have one of the most stressful jobs and they are predisposed to conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and depression.
Caregivers often neglect their own self-care practices and miss medical appointments due to their caregiving responsibilities.
If you feel like caring for your parent with Alzheimer’s is getting to be too much, consider reaching out to other family members or mental health professionals who can help.
Where Can I Learn More about Tech for Those with Alzheimer’s?
Do you have concerns about caring for your relative who’s just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? Or perhaps you’ve been living with the condition and need a device to help keep you safe. LogicMark can help.
Our medical alert devices are designed to simplify your life and keep your aging loved ones safe. Get in touch today to learn more.