When a family member of relative is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are no words to describe the range of contrasting and conflicting emotions you will naturally be experiencing. In an effort to consolidate and offer at least a small measure of practicality to the situation you find yourself in, continue reading for answers to key questions often asked when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
What Actually Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common cause of and reason why people develop dementia, with dementia affecting, on average, around 50% to 60% percent of older Americans. The vast majority of people who develop dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s disease are usually aged over 65. Some people experience symptoms earlier, which is known as early onset Alzheimer’s.
As a person ages, it is by no means an accepted part of life that they will automatically develop signs of dementia and, in someone that does, their brain experiences changes that another brain without dementia does not.
Alzheimer’s disease triggers the creation and growth of two different proteins in the brain, named tau and amyloid, both of which have been scientifically proven to trigger the onset of dementia.
What Will Happen To My Loved One?
Essentially, as with every other sickness or disease, the ways in which the disease greatly differs and varies depends very much on the individual. However, all people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will find that the illness is a progressive one and can sometimes loosely follow a set pattern. Again, this pattern has merely found to be present in some patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is in no way, shape or form a guaranteed blueprint to what might or might not occur with your loved one.
There are basically seven separate stages of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Usual Outward Behaviors
The beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease can be present for many years before any symptoms whatsoever start to come to prominence. It is during this time that you may have discovered the presence of the disease through an unrelated brain scan or other medical intervention.
- Mild Changes In Behaviors
The very beginnings of behavioral changes are almost in perceivable to anyone other than the person themselves and perhaps only a close and immediate family member. Such mild changes in behavior may include forgetting or mispronouncing small words or losing everyday objects such as glasses or mobile phones.
- Mild Decline In Behaviors and Thinking
Now, it is more than possible that it is more immediately obvious that your loved one’s reasoning and thinking are beginning to be affected by the disease. Examples of this include asking the same or similar question repeatedly, forgetting names of new people, forgetting information only just received and experiencing trouble remembering plans made earlier on in the week.
- Moderate Decline In Behaviors and Thinking
The signs of Alzheimer’s disease become significantly more obvious, noticeable and altogether prominent. Your loved one may forget basic information about themselves, experience difficulty identifying the correct date, struggle with handling and paying for their groceries and not being able to answer or even understand basic questions.
- Moderately Severe Decline In Behaviors and Thinking
Obvious deterioration of daily life will be present if or when your loved one begins to demonstrate signs of their disease having progressed to stage five of the disease.
They will more than likely require your help in preparing and carrying out their chores and responsibilities throughout the day and it is advisable at this point to have a close friend or relative stay in their home with them to ensure their safety and security.
- Severe Decline in State of Mind and Overall Competency
In this phase of Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one may be struggling to carry out even the most basic of tasks, such as swallowing, feeding themselves, dressing and bathing. When staying with them, they may struggle to walk, be unable to sleep properly, exhibit clear signs of weight loss and may even be diagnosed with pneumonia.
- Very Severe Decline of Mind and Overall Competency
All basic day-to-day abilities in a loved one whose Alzheimer’s disease has progressed through to the final stages are usually all gone. Now, it may soon become impossible and practical for your loved one to continue living at home and it may now be time for them to move to a place that can provide full time help, care and protection in safety and security.
What Happens If A Loved One Can No Longer Live At Home?
There is a plethora of options to consider and to research if it becomes clear that your loved one is no longer capable of looking after themselves safely and properly in their own home. Perhaps, however, you and other primary caregivers are confident that you are physically and, crucially, mentally strong enough to continue taking care of your loved one yourselves, but would like a break to catch your breath once or even twice a week.
If you are considering relocating your loved one to an assisted living facility, then be sure to select a professional, experienced and established community with specialized memory care facilities such as alzheimer’s care in Albany. In memory care facilities, residents are assisted with everything from daily dressing, washing and cleaning to actively being encouraged to participate in social activities and supervised outdoor trips.
Alternatively, for respite care for you and your loved one, adult day centers provide activities and structured social engagements and activities and many of them also provide meals and transportation to and from the center.
If your loved one seems more comfortable and confident living at home, then perhaps opting for home care services, even temporarily would be the better option while they are still able to manage in their own surroundings. Home care services provide both caregivers and the person suffering with Alzheimer’s disease with a break to relax, take care of their own chores and responsibilities and any and all types of help where needed.