Your loved one or close friend has received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the disease is important so that you will best know how to care and support someone who has it.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It affects behavior, problem solving, and memory. Most often it will progress to where it affects daily activities and all behavioral functions. With Alzheimer’s each day can and will bring different challenges.
Alzheimer’s causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. Those who are affected with Alzheimer’s become forgetful, easily confused, and have a hard time concentrating. As the disease progresses they may have trouble taking care of themselves and doing basic things like making meals, bathing, and getting dressed.
Alzheimer’s can progress faster in some people, and not everyone will have the same symptoms. In most cases Alzheimer’s takes years to develop, with it becoming increasingly severe over time.
Alzheimer's disease consists of three main stages: early-stage, moderate, and severe/late-stage. Understanding these stages can help you care for your loved one and make the necessary plan’s to prepare for the challenges ahead.
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, people often have some memory loss and small changes in personality. They may have trouble remembering recent events or the names of familiar people or objects. They may no longer be able to solve simple problems or balance a checkbook. People with early Alzheimer’s also slowly lose the ability to plan and organize. They may begin to have difficulty with shopping, driving, keeping appointments and remembering important events.
With moderate Alzheimer’s, memory loss and confusion will become more obvious. They have more trouble organizing, planning, and following instructions. Your loved one may need help getting dressed and may start having problems with bladder or bowel control.
People with moderate Alzheimer’s may have trouble recognizing family members and friends. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They also may begin to wander, so they should not be left alone. Personality changes can become more serious. For example, people may make threats, accuse others of stealing, become very agitated.
In the severe stage of Alzheimer's, people usually need help with all of their daily living tasks. They may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.
Additional Things to Know
At this time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can prevent some symptoms from getting worse for a limited time. Alzheimer’s is most common in older adults bit it can and does affect those in their 30’s and up! Known mostly for memory loss and confusion Alzheimer’s may be the nation’s third most deadly killer.
Others often sense that something is wrong before they are told, Alzheimer’s disease is hard to keep secret.
You can help family and friends understand how to interact with the person who has Alzheimer’s.
Realize what the person can still do and how much he or she can still understand.
Give suggestions about how to start talking with the person. For example, "Hi Mary, I'm Susan. We used to work together."
Avoid correcting the person with Alzheimer’s if he or she makes a mistake or forgets something.
Plan fun activities with the person, such as going to family reunions or visiting old friends. Songs, photos and stories from the past often are most enjoyable for someone with Alzheimer's since these are memories that may not be forgotten.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease is undoubtedly challenging on so many levels; physically, mentally and emotionally. Without proper rest and downtime, a caregiver can become "burned out" with negative implications for self and care recipient. Consider arranging for frequent respite periods to recharge.
If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.
Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!
Easy Living Services, Inc.
Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994