Home Care Blog | August 4, 2016
What is Alzheimer’s Care | According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.5 million seniors in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that, unless a medical discovery comes to light soon, an American senior will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds over the next several decades.
In the early stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s care may not seem necessary since the signs and symptoms often appear as little more than “senior moments” or a slight disorientation. In reality, getting help early on is the best thing your senior loved one can do. By the time the disease progresses to the point that your loved one can no longer make rational decisions, complete tasks, or communicate effectively, you will want to have a number of things in order, including Powers of Attorney, wills, hospice care and end of life provision, etc.
In the middle levels of the disease progression, your loved one will require the constant supervision that comes from Alzheimer’s care. At this stage, they do not need help with all of their tasks, but they will often forget how to use the microwave or forget to turn off the oven. Other times they may walk out of the home and lock themselves out, or take a walk and forget who or where they are. Even when they do remember, individuals in the mid-level of an Alzheimer’s progression may not be able to find the right words to say or may be unable to communicate their thoughts effectively. Seniors in the middle level of Alzheimer’s may also require help with medication management, keeping to a routine, and remembering daily tasks. As a result, supervision becomes important from 12 to 24 hours a day and modifications need to be made around the house to keep your loved one safe.
Seniors in the mid-level of Alzheimer’s require the most emotional support. It is terrifying to lose control of one’s life. This stage is often filled with anger, frustration, anxiety, agitation, and depression. This is also the stage where family members simply don’t know what to do or say. They also find themselves stretched physically and emotionally as the constant demands of Alzheimer’s care starts to take its toll.
By the late-stage of the disease, Alzheimer’s care changes from supervision and assistance to full-time care. In this stage, your loved one will need assistance with eating and swallowing, walking or being moved, and personal care. Most people lose their ability to communicate and express their needs. Despite their condition, your loved one is still a person who needs social contact and love. This is best displayed through touch, telling stories, playing their favorite music, showing old pictures, combing their hair, or simply talking to them even when they can’t respond back.
Most families want to be there for their senior loved one, but they simply do not know what to do, how to plan for the future, how to make the home safe, or how to respond to the changes that take place as the disease progresses. Those that battle through, find themselves exhausted and usually face their own health concerns due to lack of sleep, stress, and physical and emotional burnout.
Alzheimer’s care is not designed to replace the care and support of the family. Rather, it is there so the family can effectively provide care and support with the best information, guidance, and assistance. From help with the daily chores, such as light housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation, to transportation, personal care, and even help with eating, this specialized care allows the family to focus on the most important part of the care: spending quality time with their loved one.