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Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s Care

How do you know if someone you love is in need of Alzheimer’s care? An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a difficult journey for patients and their families. A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s attacks the parts of the brain that handle memory, decision-making, and language. It causes progressive brain deterioration, and presently there is no cure. The illness can make a patient become forgetful and confused, struggle with simple daily tasks, and even become bad tempered and aggressive. Alzheimer’s patients frequently become unable meet their own physical needs, lose language skills, and may develop a tendency to wander. They need close and constant assistance, which can be exhausting for their families. Fortunately, medical research is producing treatment that can significantly slow the progress of the disease, allow for better quality of life, and ease the transition to full time Alzheimer’s care.

Many individuals can see to their own hygiene and meals for some time after diagnosis. But they should have assistance with organizing their homes, taking medications, maintaining any business and legal papers, and household expenses and the like. As a person’s memory becomes compromised, it is easy to forget little things or get distracted. So someone should make sure the light bill is still paid! As the condition progresses, a person may need help with chores, meals, dressing, grooming. Eventually, a caregiver will actively complete tasks like bathing, eating and medication dosing. Patients will need to be monitored closely so that they do not wander, fall down, injure themselves, break, or misplace items. As communication skills decrease, it will be important to anticipate their needs; they may not be able make a direct request.

For these reasons, if someone close to you has been diagnosed with this form of dementia, you and your loved ones should educate yourselves about Alzheimer’s care as soon as possible. As painful as these conversations can be, this is the time when they will be best able to think clearly and express preferences about their future needs.

  • First, you should discuss a plan for the short term—will the patient continue to live independently for now, or is it best to move in with a caregiver? What medications and treatments could slow the progression? What exercise and nutrition schedule could benefit them?
  • Second, put a plan in place for the future day when the patient is no longer able to make big decisions. Who will represent their interests to doctors, caregivers, and other advisors? Who will coordinate their care? Where do they want to live?

Ask your loved one to express thoughts and feelings about what kind of care they would prefer—a family caregiver versus a professional? What kind of community would they enjoy? What kind of activities or environment?

There are several potential environments for Alzheimer’s care; discuss the one that is right for the individual patient. If they continue to live in their own home, they will eventually need a full time caregiver—perhaps more than one. Will that be a loved one or professional? An assisted living facility may be a good fit. Many have different care levels where an individual can transition from greater independence to closer supervision as their condition changes. Make sure that they have safe, secure physical facilities and high standards for hygiene and nutrition. Is an Alzheimer’s/dementia specific facility the best choice? There are more live-in facilities specializing in the needs of patients with degenerative brain illnesses.

No matter what choices you make, you and your loved ones will be better off if you plan ahead for Alzheimer’s care. It can be expensive; make financial arrangements. It is emotionally challenging for everyone; investigate the support and counseling offered by your medical provider. The earlier you consider the potential challenges, the better the odds that your loved one will be happy, safe, and comfortable through this stage of their life.