How To Cope With Alzheimer’s Disease In Your Family

How To Cope With Alzheimer’s Disease In Your Family

How To Cope With Alzheimer’s Disease In Your Family

The neurodegenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease progressively destroys the cognitive abilities of an individual.  People who suffer from the disease might start to gradually lose the ability to perform daily activities, communicate or make decisions.  In addition, they might start to experience anxiety, increased dementia, memory loss, abnormal behavior or changes in personality.  If you are providing care for a relative or other loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease, here are a few tips to help minimize stress and maximize comfort.

Learn all you can about the disease and its progression stages.

Gather as much information as you can on AD from the library or different online sources.  There may also be local organizations in your area that provide free education about Alzheimer’s Disease.  Facing some facts about the disease might be hard.  However, you need to know what to expect.  Alzheimer’s disease has seven stages of development.  Many patients do not get diagnosed with AD until they are at stage four.  Do your best to figure out which stage your relative or other loved one is at as well as what the evident symptoms are as the disease continues to develop.

Seek medical help.

The diagnosis must be made by a specialist.  Primary care physicians, neurologists and psychiatrists are all very skilled at making the diagnosis.  Usually, the Mini Mental State Exam (or MMSE) is performed on the patient.  PET and CAT scans are often administered as well to rule out the possibility that dementia has caused a stroke (when dementia causes a stroke, mental ability has a step-like decline.  With AD, the decline is more of a downward, steady arch).

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, there are several different medications that can help to slow the disease’s development down.  In some cases it can help to extend the mental processes of the patient’s for a longer period of time than if no medication was taken.  One type of medication used are holinesterase inhibitors consisting of Razadyne, Aricept and Exelon.  From early to late AD stages, cholinesterase inhibitors are used.  The glutamate reducer Namenda can also be taken in addition to cholinesterase inhibitors from early to late Alzheimer’s stages.

Plan ahead.

Once you have become aware of the ways in which Alzheimer’s disease can affect an individual, plan ahead so that you will be prepared for the changes ahead.  You need to prepare yourself financially and emotionally.  You are probably are going to eventually need to help the patient with buying a wheelchair when he or she can easily move around; makes changes to mealtime habits; and help with toileting and personal hygiene.

Make the environment safe.

Your home should be transformed into a safe place for the relative or loved one that you are caring for.  Be sure that dangerous areas and medicine cabinets are not accessible.  Install child-safety locks and shut-off devices.  Grab bars should also be installed in the bathroom.  You might need to take measures to prevent the patient from being able to wander off and leave the house.

Anticipate behavior and personality changes.

A loved one who suffers Alzheimer’s disease eventually will lose his or her ability to perform both complex and simple tasks.  In addition there will be disruptions to the individual’s sleep-wake cycle that could also keep you up at night.  The patients could also suffer hallucinations and see you as an enemy or impostor.  As a caregiver, always keep in mind you are helping your loved one and not the disease.  Treat the person like you would want to be treated if you had the disease.

Share memories with your loved one.

Try to share memories from your loved one’s past while they still can.  As the individual with Alzheimer’s disease starts to lose their ability to retain information and learn new things, discussing their past could help them remember happy times in their lives.

Share laughter with your loved one.

An individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease might not recognize you or other close relatives or friends.  However, their feelings frequently can be expressed through interactions that their current capabilities can handle.  Practically anyone has the ability to receive love and kindness.

Acting as caregiver to a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be the most painful, stressful, overwhelming time in your life, but you do not have to go it alone. Help is available through Boca Home Care Services for Delray Beach. BHCS can provide screened, trained, certified, experienced and compassionate home care aides and certified nursing assistants, to provide relief for you and comfort to your afflicted loved one. Home Care aides are available on a full or part time basis. Contact Boca Home Care Services for Delray Beach at 561-989-0611 to set up a free in home consultation. Let us help.