20 Aug Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s | Family Tree Private Care
Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be a significant moment in one’s life, marking a time of reflection and adjustment. The manner in which the information is conveyed, paired with the level of support available, can greatly influence one’s outlook. While the future may hold uncertainties, it can also be an opportunity for personal growth, deepened connections with loved ones, and finding new ways to cherish the present moment. The journey ahead offers a chance for both the individual and their support network to demonstrate resilience, courage, and compassion.
Early Diagnosis Makes A Difference
Early detection is key to providing the best care possible. An early diagnosis means that the patient will have access to a senior care plan faster, significantly improving their quality of life.
What Is The Difference: Alzheimer’s versus Dementia
Knowing the difference is important, especially for the care of an aging loved one. The biggest differentiator between the two are:
- Alzheimer’s – is a disease that slowly attacks and demolishes memory
- Dementia – is a syndrome that causes deterioration of the memory.
While it is unknown exactly when Alzheimer’s begins, most people start out with signs of dementia.
Educate yourself on what to expect in the future and put a support system in place. It can be helpful to take somewhat of a ‘solutions-focused’ approach concentrating on a person’s strengths rather than their deficits. This will lessen the frustrations for all involved.
It Pays to Have In-Home Care
Family caregiving can cause both physical and emotional stress over time and starts to become a full-time job. In-home care specialists like us at Family Tree, can provide respite to family caregivers, assisting Alzheimer’s patients with basic living needs and companionship.
In-home care specialists are trained to help maintain a healthy lifestyle for your loved ones helping with:
- Essential day-to-day activities
Be sure to do your research before hiring a specialist. You’ll want to be sure they are qualified and understand the diagnosis of your loved one. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which is why so many families need professional care. Alzheimer’s continues to progress and get worse over time.
There are three stages of Alzheimer’s:
Early Stage (Mild)
One with mild Alzheimer’s can manage life more or less the same as before the diagnosis. Certain symptoms may be noticeable and are often misdiagnosed as depression or stress-related.
What to Expect:
- Forgetting words
- Misplacing objects
- Forgetting information just read
- Repeatedly asking the same question
- Increased difficulty making plans or organizing
Caring for Someone with Mild Alzheimer’s
- Consult the person – Focus on what they want to do and how they can do it rather than what help they need.
- Develop a safety plan – Figure out how to make activities safe rather than limiting activities. Closely monitor skills such as self care and driving for health and safety.
- Challenge the limits of what IS possible – Be flexible in the ways that you communicate to convey positivity and support of your loved one.
- Start to cultivate a relationship with a home caregiver – Finding a suitable caregiver will reduce frustration and stress, going forward, they will be a valuable part of the care team as time progresses.
Middle Stage (Moderate)
This is the longest and most difficult stage of Alzheimer’s. Individuals experience more significant struggles with communication and lack of personal care.
What to Expect:
- Decreased memory
- Trouble remembering family and friends
- Increased tendency to repeat stories
- Difficulty performing complex tasks
- Inability to handle finances
- Disregard for hygiene and appearance
- Depression and anxiety
- Change in sleeping patterns
Caring for Someone With Moderate Alzheimer’s
During this stage, caregivers will need flexibility and patience. It is useful to develop a routine which will create structure for your loved one.
- Get creative with communication – The middle stage can be playful. Look for creative ways to communicate, such as expressive arts.
- Practice being in the present moment – Accepting how things are in the present will help you both to be less stressed.
- Focus on what brings you together – Spend time cherishing activities.
Don’t take everything too seriously – Take time to live joyfully in the moment.
Late Stage (Severe)
Late-stage Alzheimer’s requires increased support. A professional caregiver or nurse is especially crucial during this stage for everyone’s well-being.
- What to Expect:
- Total memory loss
- Difficulty talking or an inability to talk
- Recognizing faces but forgetting names
- Difficulty walking and sitting
- Difficulty swallowing (may need to be fed through a tube)
- Trouble breathing
- Not recognizing thirst or hunger
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Caring for Someone With Severe Alzheimer’s
As mentioned earlier, it is more important than ever to focus on what remains as opposed to what is gone during this stage.
- Use various ways to connect with your loved one – Express your love and support through multiple senses. Try reading a favorite book to your loved one or listening to music.
- Look for clues that support a relationship still exists – When an individual with Alzheimer’s can no longer recognize their relatives, it can be exceedingly difficult to cope with this realization. But signs such as your loved one’s demeanor or body language can let you know that you are still connected.
- Practice self-care – Do what is needed to take care of yourself – take breaks, avail yourself of national and local resources, and accept assistance from friends and family members.
- Be present with your loved one – As much as you can, try to be with your loved one in the present moment. This will allow you both to better enjoy the time spent together.
Navigating the multifaceted journey of Alzheimer’s disease, brings numerous challenges for both the individual and their loved ones. One such challenge, which often arises as a significant concern for families, is the issue of driving.
Driving is not just a mode of transportation, it represents independence, freedom and control. Yet, as Alzheimer’s progresses, cognitive and motor skills diminish, and driving can become a serious safety issue. It’s crucial to recognize when it’s time to hang up the keys and explore alternative means of transportation to ensure the safety of the individual as well as others on the road.
How To Handle Alzheimer’s And Driving
- How long can someone with Alzheimer’s keep driving?
- How do I talk to my mom or dad about giving up their car keys?
- What will happen after they lose their car?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to questions like this, here are some factors to consider.
What To Do
Many seniors don’t want to stop driving because they’re afraid of losing their mobility. But there are many resources that can be put into place for this exact situation.
Unfortunately, many families delay this important conversation, especially when adult children are acting as the primary caregiver for a parent. Often, it was the same parent who first taught them how to drive, and these kinds of role reversals are a major reason that being a caregiver is so stressful. Yet putting off uncomfortable conversations always does more harm than good, especially when it comes to issues like driving.
Why It’s Important To Stop Driving With Alzheimer’s?
Driving a car is a high stakes business. One wrong decision, one bad turn, one forgotten seat belt can turn into a tragedy in the blink of an eye. Safe driving requires motorists to make constant judgment calls behind the wheel, while also maintaining a fast reaction time; Alzheimer’s makes both of these more difficult.
It may not be pleasant, but if you’re worried that an aging relative is no longer safe behind the wheel, then there are two things you have to do right away. First, talk to your relatives about your concerns! This might seem obvious, but you’d be shocked how many people never bother to have a simple conversation. Second, try and schedule a driving assessment for your loved one. This has the added benefit of taking the decision-making burden off your shoulders.
Embracing the Journey While Living with Purpose and Grace through Alzheimer’s
This year, one in three seniors who pass away will have had some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Currently, among the top 10 causes of death, Alzheimer’s is one for which we haven’t found ways to slow or cure, but research is ongoing, and we remain hopeful for the future. There are medications on the market that can improve a person’s ability to function for a time.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s typically develop dementia or, at least, one other medical condition, including diabetes, osteoporosis and hypertension. However, many times the challenge with Alzheimer’s “comes not from dementia itself but the inability of our culture to support the changes associated with it”.
HOW YOU CAN HELP – THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION AND THE LONGEST DAY
In June, during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, attention is given to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to increase public knowledge about these debilitating and deadly diseases. As caregivers to the elderly, Family Tree Private Care supports the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and is deeply involved in the work they do, annually participating in their walk events to promote awareness and research.
The Longest Day is observed every year in mid June on the same day as the summer solstice. This day with the most light (the longest day), symbolizes the struggle those with Alzheimer’s (and their caregivers) endure, as well as the determination to fight the darkness of the disease. On this day, participants engage in various activities they choose to honor those who are affected.
Take the Next Step for Your Loved One’s Wellbeing
The journey of Alzheimer’s is challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. Family Tree Private Care offers compassionate, specialized support tailored to the unique needs of those with Alzheimer’s. Give your family member the best possible care and comfort they deserve, so you can enjoy your family time.