Caregiving for a loved one during the early stages of Alzheimer’s can be very difficult.
What is Alzheimer’s ?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that progressively declines memory and other vital mental functions.
What are the risk factors?
Risk factors of the disease include age, gender, genetics and other common medical conditions related to an increased risk such as, previous head injury, Down Syndrome, Diabetes, high cholesterol and more. Having these risk factors does not necessarily mean Alzheimer’s will occur, but it does increase the risk of it happening.
What are the symptoms?
- Symptoms during the early phase of the disease can vary person to person but often include:
- Forgetfulness and attempts to hide frequent forgetting
- Misplacing things
- Getting lost while driving
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to recall words
- Decrease in sentence complexity
- Problems with mathematical calculations
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Difficulty with tasks that require fine motor ability such as putting a key in the keyhole or buttoning a shirt
- Difficulty in dealing with daily life tasks such as managing finances, tending to household tasks, maintaining personal hygiene
- Repeating questions and stories
- Nonsensical wordy speech
- Naming difficulties
- Depressed mood
Source: Health Library
These symptoms along with a doctors examination and diagnosis can be a good indicator tha it is time to step in to begin caring for your loved one as he or she begins to deal with the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Here are a few quick tips during this tricky period of care.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that worsens overtime. Working with your loved one now to make necessary decisions and create an action plan is the best thing you can do.
Begin in-home routines.
Some people with Alzheimer’s have trouble remembering to do the “simple” things like eating three meals a day, bathing, checking the mail, doing laundry, paying bills and so on. Developing a daily routine to Incorporate these necessary life skills will support your loved ones ability to self care for as long as possible.
Begin making observations.
Witnessing a loved one lose their memory and other abilities can be heart wrenching. It is critical to compassionately observe him or her during this time. Keeping a journal of things you notice during each interaction can be tremendously helpful in a doctors diagnosis of Alzheimer’s phases and treatment.
Begin or encourage regular exercise.
“According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce [the] risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems.”
Start by walking with your loved at a certain time of day or doing an exercise tape at home. Be sure to keep familiar territory, so not to encourage roaming behaviors.
I hope these tips make your caregiving transition a bit easier for you and your loved ones. For additional information on Alzheimer’s please visit www.alz.org.
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHWC, CPT, CMS
Health Advisor | Email Casey