Aug 29, 2017 by Shannon Meller
Welcome back to part two of our five-part series for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month! This week, we will be exploring how Alzheimer’s progresses in individuals and how to care for loved ones that have developed it.
In case you missed it: Part 1
Alzheimer’s is a disease that develops slowly, with symptoms that worsen as time goes on. It consists of 3 stages of progression: early, middle, and late. Although the rate of progression varies among individuals, the stages help to give experts a better picture of where your loved one’s abilities are at. They can also aide in the development of their Alzheimer’s care plan.
Those that find themselves in the first stages of Alzheimer’s will find they often forget new information, mix words and have trouble forming proper sentences, or have difficulties planning and organizing. Individuals are generally able to live independently.
Although your loved one may still be able to do many things on their own, the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the best time to start long term planning. This includes looking at finances, getting legal affairs in order, and discussing future care options. It is also a good time to start developing a daily routine, as well as memory cues, to avoid stress and frustration. How much Alzheimer’s care you provide depends on your love one and their needs. To avoid pushing the boundaries of independence, assume they are able to complete a task and monitor for any signs of frustration or difficulty.
Typically the longest stage, individuals at this point of their development will experience a great disrupt in their daily life. This will stem from the inability to perform simple tasks, express thoughts or emotions clearly, and keep track of place and time. Professional help is normally sought at home or in a facility.
Caring for loved ones in this stage will require time, patience, and a bit of expertise. You may have to help with a number of your loved one’s daily care needs such as bathing or cooking. There are also safety measures to take to prevent your senior from wandering, or alert you and professionals when they are. Since it will be hard for your loved one to communicate with you, do your best to understand non-verbal cues. Be mindful that their sudden changes in mood are often a result of the disease, and to always use a gentle voice. Make sure their Alzheimer’s care plan contains a routine to help prevent confusion and issues such as sundowning.
Sever changes are noticed that greatly affect your loved one’s mood, thought process, and physical condition. As the brain begins to deteriorate, they may completely lose awareness of their environment as well as be unable to express needs. The body may also have an increased difficulty in performing normal functions such as walking, picking up objects, or swallowing. Around-the-clock care is typically sought.
At this point of the disease, loved ones will need help from a team of Alzheimer’s care experts on a 24 hour basis for nearly all their daily living needs. What is most important at this stage is making sure your loved one is comfortable. Be sure to be on alert for signs of pain or illness. Make sure they are getting as much movement as they can in order to promote good circulation and freezing of joints. It is also key to make sure they are not forgetting to eat and that their fluid levels are okay.
Always remember that help is out there and to take care of yourself as well as your loved ones. Seek out respite care services or the help of a provider to make sure you are getting the rest you need, and are keeping up with other elements of your life. It is necessary in order to always be at the top of your game.
Comfort Keepers of Milwaukee, WI is proud to be a part of The Walk To End Alzheimer’s, held by the Alzheimer’s Association in over 600 communities nationwide! Visit our page to learn more, find a walk near you, or donate!
The Walk To End Alzheimer’s
Sunday, September 17th
Henry Maier Festival Park
200 North Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Registration at 8:00 am
Ceremony at 9:30 am
Walk at 10 am
Come back next week to see how exactly Alzheimer’s effects the brain!