Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more common in our culture as the baby boomers age. While the decline found in Alzheimer’s is challenging, there are many things that those with Alzheimer’s can still do to enjoy their quality of life.
1- You Need An Un-Biased Observer
Hearing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis applied to a loved one can be devastating, and watching their decline may be more than many of us can tolerate. While those with advancing Alzheimer’s can have good days and bad days, the opportunities for improvement are slim.
If you have a trained caregiver spending time each day with your loved one, you’ll get an unbiased opinion on their decline, what events seem to trigger difficult days, and what events make them happy.
It’s important to note that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s may struggle to build new memories, but they can still experience emotions from love to anger. Keeping their frustration level low with the assistance of a skilled companion caregiver can relieve stress, stimulate curiosity and conversation, and result in an honest assessment of the progress of the disease.
2- Memory Disconnections Can Be Dangerous To Your Loved One
While simple memory slip-ups such as “where are my keys?” and “what did I come in here for again?” are not uncommon for people of all ages, Alzheimer’s patients can put themselves at risk when they forget what a product or item is suited for. For example, an Alzheimer’s sufferer may remember how to do laundry but not recall the purpose of bleach. Helping Hearts Foundation Inc. said, “Simple chores such as cooking or gardening can result in dangerous situations, and a caregiver can prevent catastrophic injuries and accidents.” Additionally, many companion caregiving agencies offer help with light housework and cooking.
3- Familial Caregivers Need A Break
Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s is difficult in many ways. Family caregivers mourn the loved one they remember, and may be hurt or frustrated at what gets forgotten as time passes. Many Alzheimer’s patients are prone to wander and may need constant monitoring. One person cannot do it all; everyone needs to sleep. However, your loved one may not be able to rest.
It’s critically important for family caregivers to have access to quality sleep and regular breaks. Even if you’re just getting in some help while you run to the grocery store or take care of your own doctor’s appointment, you need someone you can call while you get away and have some time to yourself.
4- Alzheimer’s Sufferers Can Be Abusive
The personality changes that can crop up as the disease advances can be distressing. Imagine trying to maintain a good attitude in a world where new things keep cropping up and you’re constantly surprised at the evening news or in conversation. Eventually, it’s natural to become frustrated or even to feel that you’re being deceived.
If an event should arise in which your loved one needs to be restrained for their own safety or yours, working with a trained professional caregiver will protect you and your loved one from a tragic situation. As the disease advances, you will need more assistance, so it’s critically important to start early and build a relationship with an agency or group of caregivers you trust and are comfortable with.
If you notice your loved one failing or having memory slip-ups beyond the normal mishaps, encourage them to seek medical attention. Connect with your siblings or other family members about bringing in help to assist your loved one, and take care not to isolate yourself as a solo caregiver. No single person can serve as a caregiver to someone with advancing Alzheimer’s. Do not put yourself or your loved one at risk. Start early and simple with a companion caregiving agency.