Dealing With an Alzheimer’s Parent: 5 Fundamentals
Lately, your aging parent has not seemed to be normal. It may be little things like lapses in memory, sudden bursts of anger, or a number of other signs. That leads you to wonder if dementia may be developing.
This does mean some changes for you as well as your loved one. In fact, you may be wondering how you will provide care as the condition progresses. The challenges include respecting the wishes of your loved one while also seeking to keep him or her safe. There will also be decisions about day to day caregiving, managing tasks like bathing and cooking, and even what it will take to manage finances properly.
Fortunately, you don’t have to manage Alzheimer's care at home on your own. When the time comes, you may find that help from a compassionate professional will ensure your loved one is safe and continues to receive the best of care. As you ponder the choices, consider each of these five fundamentals that relate to this new and somewhat unsure path. What you find here will equip you to provide the care your loved one needs and also take care of yourself.
Issues That Loved Ones Face When Caring for Someone With Dementia
If you’re feeling inadequate to provide the level of care needed, don’t feel guilty or that you’re alone. Many people who find themselves caring for someone with Alzheimer's initially feel overwhelmed. Even as you develop a plan and things seem to be going well, there will be moments when you doubt yourself and your decisions. Instead of beating yourself up about that, realize that your questions are one more way that you exhibit love for your aging parent.
There will be times when you feel a great deal of anger. That anger may be directed at your loved one or at the disease itself. With that anger, don’t be surprised if you feel some guilt. After all, this is not something your loved one set out to do or brought on intentionally. With that in mind, the anger seems to be wrong in your eyes.
Remember that emotions don’t always make sense. It’s also not healthy for you to bottle them in and pretend they don’t exist. Do find someone who can provide you with the chance to vent. You may even consider seeing an analyst or joining a support group for children of Alzheimer's patients. Having that outlet will help you deal with any anger in a positive way and allow you to continue providing care.
Exhaustion is also an issue that you will face. Trying to juggle work, home, and taking care of your parent will eventually begin to get to you. Keep in mind that as much as you want to be there all the time, that’s not good for anyone. Ensure that there are short periods when you can get away, rest, and do something for yourself. That makes it all the easier to return and once again provide care to your parent.
Indications That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimer’s Disease
What are some of the reasons why you think that your parent may have Alzheimer's Disease? There are some common signs that raise this question. Not all of them have to be present for the condition to exist. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention if any of the following should begin to manifest:
- Memory Loss – if your parent begins to have unusually common bouts of forgetting things that are usually easy to remember, there could be a problem. It’s not so much about forgetting where the car keys happen to be; it’s more about failing to recognize familiar faces at first or losing the string of a conversation with a loved one.
- Difficulty With Simple Tasks – This may be another example of memory loss, in that your loved one finds it difficult to manage a task that used to come so easily. The difficulty is not in terms of having the physical strength or the dexterity to perform the steps. What seems to be missing is the recollection of how to perform the task. If this seems to happen more and more, there is definitely an issue present.
- Changes in Demeanor – When you begin to notice that your loved one seems to be unusually preoccupied, moody, angry, or agitated about things that used to be no issue at all, there’s something happening inside. If you notice that these unusual changes in basic demeanor seem to disappear as suddenly as they occur, the possibility of Alzheimer’s Disease is definitely present.
- Seeing Things – People who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease may begin to see things that aren’t there. It could be people who have died years ago, or it could be something as simple as seeing an unknown person who is not in the room. These visions may come and go so quickly that it takes a little time for you to realize they’re occurring.
Basic Tips For Those Taking Care of Parents With Alzheimer’s Disease
When it comes to caring for Alzheimer's parent, there are some basics that will help you cope and also help your loved one feel more at ease. Try these and see how they help:
- Learn Everything You Can About the Disease – Knowledge is power. By educating yourself about the condition, it’s easier for you to understand what your loved one is experiencing. It will also help you understand why some of the tips recommended by professionals really matter.
- Routines Add Comfort – To whatever degree possible, establish and maintain a routine that your loved one can follow. That includes when meals are served, when it’s time for a bath, and even little things like when to watch television. The routine provides some comfort in the midst of the distress. It also helps you keep things organized in terms of your own life.
- Pay Attention to the Diet – Your impulse may be to give your loved one whatever he or she wants to eat. Up to a point, that’s okay. Balance that with ensuring the meal planning pays attention to nutritional needs. Along with helping with physical well being, some of those nutrients will also provide support with mental issues like depression.
Signs That the Time Has Come to Seek Professional Help
It’s true that Alzheimer’s Disease eventually progresses. During the mild and moderate stages, you may find that dealing with an Alzheimer’s parent is within your abilities. Once the disease advances to a severe state, it may be time to call in professionals to help with the day to day care. Here are some signs that now is the time to make that call:
- Increased Tendency to Wander – Your loved one has been leaving the home and getting lost more frequently. This poses a serious safety issue. It may be that the time has come to hire a professional caregiver who can be in the home around the clock.
- Episodes of Anger and Aggression are Escalating – Your loved one is getting angry more often. In some cases, physical violence seems to be taking over. For your safety as well as the safety of your loved one, professionals who know how to manage these episodes are needed.
- Your Loved One Needs More Help With Things Like Personal Hygiene – For a long time, your parent was able to take showers, dress, and manage most aspects of personal hygiene without little to no help. That’s no longer the case. Now is the time to seek professional help that can aid in ensuring your loved one is clean at all times.
- You’re Running on Empty – While much of the focus is on your parent, the day may come when you’re not sure that it’s possible to keep going. For your own good, it’s time to seek help from professional caregivers. If you don’t, you may find yourself in need of a caregiver too.
Understanding the Benefits of Alzheimer’s Care at Home With Professional Caregivers
With advancing cases, the need for 24 hour Alzheimer care becomes more evident. Once you have a professional who is providing that care, you’ll notice several things are happening. Here are few benefits that are likely to occur:
- Your loved one feels less alone – As much as you would like to be there all the time, it’s not possible. If there’s a caregiver in the home around the clock, your parent does have someone close who provides a sense of safety. There’s also someone on hand to talk to and help out when the world seems to suddenly slide out of sync.
- Things Remain Familiar – Even with someone new in the home, the surroundings remain familiar. There may still be bouts of disorientation, but it’s comforting to be in the same house during those more lucid moments.
- The Care Adjusts to the Parent’s Current State – As more symptoms manifest, you can bet that a professional will recognize them. Further, that professional will know how to respond to the changes even as they are noted and tracked. That can be invaluable information when it’s time to think about future plans for care.
While you may not feel sure of how to proceed, know that there are support services that can help you make wise choices for your loved one. Explore those options and learn more about what they can do for you as well as for the patient.