Alzheimer’s disease refers to a cognitive disorder that relates to memory deterioration. If you or a loved one hears the diagnosis of “Alzheimer’s” from a doctor, it can lead to more questions than answers. However, there’s a lot to learn about the disease and how to best care for loved ones who have Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease refers to the deterioration of brain cells and brain connections most commonly identified by memory loss. Generally speaking, the disease affects seniors, but it can also affect younger people.
It’s a progressive disease that gets worse over time. Some cases are much worse than others. It tends to start small. You may notice someone forgetting a birthday or a name. Eventually, it can get so bad that the brain fails how to move properly.
More than 3 million people get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every single year.
People with Alzheimer’s may also experience other problems associated with the diagnosis, such as anxiety and depression.
- Memory loss that affects daily living
- Problem-solving challenges
- Failure to complete previously easy tasks
- Losing track of places and time
- Spacial issues
- Language problems
- Losing items
- Poor judgment
- Social withdrawal
- Personality changes
Prevention of Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias
Unfortunately, it’s hard to restore cognitive functions once the brain starts to go. However, you can take steps to encourage the best quality of life in Alzheimer’s patients and make the disease progress more slowly.
- Play problem-solving games and puzzles
- Encourage social activity
- Educate yourself
- Look at old pictures
- Alzheimer’s vaccine
Alzheimer’s Vs. Related Dementia
If you have a family member with memory problems, you may also hear dementia thrown around quite a bit.
Dementia is the general term for memory loss, while Alzheimer’s is a specific disease.
Caregiving Tips For Alzheimer’s Patients
When talking to someone with Alzheimer’s, you must remain patient.
People with Alzheimer’s may give you a bit of an attitude from time to time. Do not blame the family member. Instead, blame the disease.
If you get frustrated in return, it can make the patient feel more afraid and confused than they already feel.
Make a point to be present in your loved one’s life, even if it’s somewhat unpleasant. Show up and spend time with the patient to feel wanted and loved.
When you spend time with an Alzheimer’s patient, treat them just like anyone else when they aren’t showing signs of the disease.
Learn About Alzheimer’s Care
Learn as much as you can about Alzheimer’s and related dementias to make the best decisions.
You can find resources for your loved one and yourself through the Alzheimer’s Association or the Alzheimer’s Foundation. They offer free publications with information as well as information online. You can even find support groups for you, as Alzheimer’s affects the family just as much as the patient.
As Alzheimer’s gets worse, the patient may not be able to care for themselves properly. They may forget to take important medication. They may also fall into a depression thanks to a lack of social interaction.
To fully understand an individual’s unique limitations, attend a doctor’s visit. The doctor can explain how far along the disease has gone.
Allow Autonomy When Possible
While a person may have to come to terms with their limitations over time, they should still be able to make as many decisions as possible.
Everyone wants to feel in charge of their own life. Allow your loved ones to make as many of their own decisions as possible.
When they lose this ability, you can still do your best to create the illusion of autonomy by offering this or that option.
Home Care for Alzheimer’s
More than anything, Alzheimer’s patients require a safe environment that can accommodate their unique needs now and as the disease progresses.
In most cases, this means eventually making the transition to home health care services specifically designed for Alzheimer’s care.
Family members can’t be there to ensure home safety, but you can order personal care services to take your place when you have to tend to work and your household.
Personal care refers to cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and other basic help. Personal care can also help with simple medical care, such as medication administration, first aid, and basic observation. A healthcare professional may be required for more extensive medical care, such as hospice care.
Alzheimer’s care can also include companion services. Companion services provide social interaction to increase mood and help the day pass by.
You can choose what type of services you need, whether you want everyday care or simple homemaker services a couple of times a week.
Alzheimer’s Care at Home Vs. at Nursing Homes
In-home care allows a person with Alzheimer’s to stay in a comfortable environment instead of adding the additional stress of moving to a nursing home.
In-home care is usually the first professional care a patient gets. Depending on how the patient progresses, they can remain with in-home care instead of moving.
Nursing homes offer more resources and safety features for patients with severe Alzheimer’s. However, most families prefer not to send a loved one into a nursing home.
Making the Home Safe
Some senior care can be done without professional assistance.
If you stick with in-home Alzheimer’s care, you need to take proper precautions to make the home safe for daily life for seniors with or without cognitive issues.
Some things you can do include installing grab bars to prevent falls and keeping things on one floor.
Finding the Right Care Provider
You can use an eldercare locator or other local resources to find numerous home care services in your area. However, different home care services offer different things. Plus, some home care services provide better care than others.
Here are some tips when it comes to finding the right care provider:
- Read patient care expert review
- Pick a skilled nursing facility
- Ask about financial resources
- Consider available services
- Adult daycare
- Long term care
- Respite services
- Healthy foods
- Recreational activities
Ask the person with Alzheimer’s for their opinion on which provider they prefer. Be sure to listen when they provide feedback about the specific nurses.
Paying For Care Services
Senior care can get expensive. The final cost depends on the services you require. However, you can expect to pay a lot of money. The costs will likely only increase in time, too.
The federal government may offer aid in specific cases. You may also find financial assistance through member organizations.
Alzheimer’s Caregiving with Caring Heart of Sedona
Alzheimer’s care makes a huge difference in the patient’s quality of life.
Caring Heart of Sedona offers Alzheimer’s care and dementia care for seniors with different programs specific for onset dementia and when dementia progresses.
Contact Caring Heart of Sedona for more information about our Alzheimer’s care services and payment options. See why we excel over other caregivers.