Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease that steals your loved one’s memories and sense of self. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is a loving challenge that can be physically and mentally exhausting. Utilizing in-home services benefits both you and your loved by providing a needed support system.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s: Early-Stage
Early stages of Alzheimer’s are often terrifying for your loved one because they are aware of their problems and what is to come. During this phase of the disease, the best support you can provide is to encourage them to live as independently as possible and continue to enjoy their normal activities. Your role is to remind them of appointments, take medications, and plan daily tasks. You should provide emotional support by encouraging them to talk about their feelings, which are likely to include embarrassment, frustration and fear. This is also an excellent time to address necessary legal matters.
At this time, in-home services such as companionship and homemaking can benefit both you and your loved ones. Companions can accompany their clients to appointments and run errands, perform light household tasks such as preparing a meal or straightening the living room. Most importantly, these trained caregivers will notify you of a change in behavior or an unsettling incident that may indicate the progression of the disease and the need for additional services.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s: Middle-Stage
At this point, the brain’s deterioration impairs the person’s ability to express themselves, resulting in anger, fear and frustration. While caring for someone with Alzheimer’s in the mid-stage, you will need to exercise great patience and understanding. There are many things you can do to help make this time a positive experience for both of you.
- Develop a routine so they know what to expect each day
- Remove distractions during meals and times when you need your loved one to concentrate on a task or conversation. Turn off the television or music to help them focus.
- Schedule appointments and visits for the time of day when your loved one is most alert.
- Focus on their emotions rather than their words. Your loved one may be confused about time, place, and the identity of those around them. Correcting them will only add frustration and anger to their confusion and fear. Instead, focus on the emotions they are expressing. If they are happy to see a cousin that died 20 years ago, be happy with them. If they are afraid of a burglar in the house, comfort them. This is the support they need.
- Find something you enjoy doing together, such as walking at the park or doing jigsaw puzzles so you can share a positive experience.
- Physical safety is a significant concern during this stage and is addressed in a separate section.
During this middle stage of the disease, in-home care personal care services are a huge support. These caregivers provide hands-on assistance with bathing, dressing and grooming. They will help your loved one with assistive ambulatory devises, changing colostomy bags, and dressing reinforcement. If prescribed by a doctor, they can assist with range of motion exercises and an ice cap or collar.
Another key service a homecare agency provides is respite care. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be physically and emotionally draining. Respite care gives you a needed break and your loved one can remain in the home. This is important since many mid-stage Alzheimer’s sufferers fear being institutionalized. With in-home services, this fear is eliminated, giving you peace of mind while you are away.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s: Physical Safety
From wandering to misuse of medications, there are many safety concerns to address for loved ones in this mid-stage of the disease. For their protection, you may need to:
- Install locks on all possible exits, including windows. You may need to replace existing locks or install locks out of reach of your loved one to assure they cannot wander.
- Paint doorknobs to match the doors so they are not noticed and used.
- Place a bell or alarm on exit doors so you will hear if your loved one has opened it.
- Remove interior locks on bedrooms, bathrooms, and anyplace else where your loved one may accidently lock themselves in and forget how to unlock it again.
- Install child-safety locks on all cabinets and drawers that store potential dangerous items.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s:Â Late-Stage
At this point, your loved one may have difficulty swallowing, need full-time help with personal care and is more prone to illness and infection. They may no longer be able to walk. You will need a team of skilled and non-skilled in-home professionals to provide your loved one the care they require.
Your role is to be with them, whether it’s reading aloud, listening to music, or simply holding hands. Sharing old photographs and preparing favorite foods is a good way to connect, even if they don’t fully remember why these things are important.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s requires physical and emotional stamina, but you don’t have to do this alone. Work with a full-service homecare agency that can provide the support you need through each stage of the disease. Call us today to learn how we can help you keep your loved one at home throughout this process.