Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that gradually progresses over time. It is a type of senile dementia, that interferes with the cognitive functioning of our loved ones making life miserable for them.
I have cared for hundreds of Alzheimer’s patients and every case is different. The main thing to remember is to have love and patients.
caring for the patient
ARGUE instead AGREE
REASON instead DIVERT
SHAME instead DISTRACT
LECTURE instead REASSURE
UTTER “REMEMBER” instead REMINISCE
RESPOND “I TOLD YOU” instead REPEAT AGAIN
SAY “YOU CAN’T” instead DO WHAT YOU CAN
COMMAND/DEMAND instead ASK/MODEL
CONDESCEND instead ENCOURAGE/PRAISE
FORCE instead REINFORCE
Understanding the disease progression
The rate at which the Alzheimer’s disease progresses varies with each senior, and largely depends on the changes that take place inside the brain. These changes begin several years before the actual condition sets in. Alzheimer’s disease affects most parts of the brain and significantly alters the thinking, memory, personality, problem-solving, language and judgemental skills of your loved one.
The several stages of Alzheimer’s disease
The disease progresses over 5 different stages, with each stage having its own distinct set of symptoms. These 5 stages would help caregivers understand the behavioral pattern of their loved ones as the disease progresses. However, these stages and its related symptoms are only a rough generalization of what one can expect during each stage of the disease.
Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
In this stage, there are significant changes in the brain, which occur much before any other sign or symptoms of the disease are apparent. This pre-clinical stage can last for several years before the actual signs and symptoms become evident. However, with advancements in medical science, early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has been made possible.
Stage 2: Mild cognitive impairment
In this stage, there are still no significant symptoms. There is the only mild cognitive decline with altered thinking ability. Even though there are no significant symptoms evident, seniors still experience difficulty in remembering conversations or lose track of recent events. They may also experience difficulty in judging the number of steps required for carrying out a particular task.
Stage 3: Mild dementia
The third stage of Alzheimer’s disease marks with the onset of mild dementia. It is at this stage that the disease is diagnosed and seniors experience serious difficulty with thinking and memory. Our loved one at this stage, experience changes in personality, have difficulty with daily tasks, are unable to carry our problem-solving tasks, experience memory loss, are unable to find out their way back home and often misplace their belongings.
Stage 4: Moderate dementia
At this stage, Our loved ones require more help to carry out their daily tasks and activities. Our loved ones get confused more easily and start to become forgetful. Memory loss at this stage becomes more grave, making matters all the more difficult for our loved ones.
Stage 5: Severe dementia
This is the most severe stage of Alzheimer’s, wherein our loved ones experience extreme difficulties in communication and also become increasingly dependent on their caregivers for their personal activities. One of the most important markers of severe dementia is that our loved ones gradually experience a physical decline, which is characterized by the inability to walk, difficulty in swallowing accompanied by loss of control over bladder movements. All these occur only because the muscles become stiff and the reflexes become abnormal.
Alzheimer’s is a challenging disease which limits our loved ones to lead a comfortable and normal life. Understanding the various stages of the disease will enable the caregivers to help our loved ones to lead a normal and fulfilling life.
The Challenges And Rewards Of Alzheimer’s Care
Watching your loved one’s memories disappear and their skills decay can be frustrating. While caring for our loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming as well. Our loved ones with Alzheimer’s will change and behave in different, sometimes disturbing or upsetting ways. For both caregiver and their loved ones. these changes can produce an emotional wave of hostility, confusion, and sadness.
As the disease advances, your loved one’s needs will increase and your caregiving responsibilities will become more challenging. At the same time, the ability of your loved one to show appreciation for all your hard work will disappear. Caregiving can literally seem like an appreciative position. But, for many, including myself, a caregiver’s long position includes not only challenges but also many rich, life-changing rewards.
Become Informed is the Key
It is a very important to become well informed about Alzheimer’s disease. There are many programs that teach families about the various stages of Alzheimer’s and about ways to deal with difficult behaviors and other caregiving challenges can help.
Good coping skills, a strong support network, and respite care are other ways to help caregivers handle the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. For example, staying physically active provides physical and emotional benefits.