Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain that leads to dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the finding of unusual protein filaments in nerve cells of the brain. These twisted filaments are called neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease involves degeneration of the cortical regions, especially the frontal and temporal lobes. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but new medications and therapies appear to be slowing the progress and improving the patient’s ability to function.

There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s:
In the first stage there is no impairment, able to safely live at home without caregiver support.
In the second stage there is a very mild cognitive decline, the person exhibits some memory loss, forgetting familiar words, location, or everyday objects. At this stage able to live alone with some caregiver support can be informal such as family or friends.
In stage three there is a mild cognitive decline. During this stage friends and family begin to notice difficulties, trouble with remembering names, difficulty performing tasks, losing or misplacing valuable objects, and increasing trouble with planning and organizing. At this point loved one should be evaluated by a physician to ensure they are able to continue driving , and  living alone. Caregiver at this point should be starting their search for a personal care home.
Stage four is a moderate cognitive decline. During this stage there is forgetfulness of recent events, impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic, counting backwards, a greater difficulty with performing tasks such as paying bills, managing finances, forgetfulness about one’s own personal history, becoming moody or withdrawn. Loved one at this stage is not safe to live alone.  The loved one requires caregiver support for safety and assistance for activities of daily living. The needs of the loved one may grow.  They may need to have more formal care like home health aides, companions, or placement into personal care that offers assistance with activities of daily living.
Stage five exhibits a moderate cognitive decline. Being unable to recall their own address, telephone number, becoming confused about where they are or what day it is, they require help to choose proper clothing for the season or occasion, not being able to remember significant details about themselves or family. The need for supervision is great in this stage.  This will definitely exceed the abilities of informal caregivers and families consider placement at a personal care home. Therapy is incorporated to promote strength and steady gait.
Stage six is a severe cognitive decline. They lose awareness of recent experiences as well as surroundings. They will remember their own name but have difficulty with personal history. They struggle with unfamiliar faces and have trouble remembering the name of their spouse or caregiver. They need assistance dressing, major changes in sleep patterns such as sleeping during the day, and being restless at night. Require assistance with bathroom hygiene, they have a hard time controlling there bowel and bladder, they exhibit extreme personality and behavioral changes including suspiciousness, delusions, verbal and or physical aggression, wandering and meandering. During this stage residents needs would able to be met in a personal care home that offers a secure dementia unit for safety due to wandering and meandering.
Stage seven is the last stage. During this stage they lose the ability to control movements, need assistance with eating, positioning, and are unable to ambulate. They are unable to respond to the environment or carry on a conversation. During this stage resident would require a higher level of care such as a skilled dementia unit.
Tips on caring for a loved one with dementia:
  1. Schedule wisely-establish a routine to make each day more predictable and less confusing. Schedule the most difficult task, such as bathing or medical appointments for the time of day when your loved one tends to be most calm and agreeable.
  2. Take your time- expect things to take longer than they used to.  The caregiver should allow more time to complete tasks so that neither the loved one nor caregivers are pushed.  
  3. Involve your loved one-allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, lay out your loved ones clothing in the order they go.
  4. Limit choices-the fewer the options, the easier it is to decide, for example provide two outfits to choose between, not a closet full of clothes, eliminate belts or accessories that are likely to be put on incorrectly.
  5. Provide simple instructions. When you ask your loved one to do something, do it one step at a time.
  6. Reduce distractions- turn off the television and minimize other distractions at meal time and during conversations so that your loved one can better focus on the task at hand.
  7. Create a safe environment: remove throw-rugs and other obstacles to prevent falls: use locks, check water temperature, and take fire safety precautions.
In the event that there is no caregiver available or the caregiver is unable to meet the loved ones needs, adult day care, or admission to personal care may be appropriate.
When a caregiver is no longer able to meet a loved ones need safely in the home, they often seek an evaluation is by a healthcare professional, whether it be the doctor, a nurse, or a liaison to determine their appropriate alternatives.  Alternative placement may be personal care sometimes referred to as assisted living. Years ago personal care was never an option the individual would be forced to rehabilitate or live the rest of their life in a skilled surrounding. Quality Life Service homes have made it possible for individuals to receive therapy, rehabilitation, and comfort in a homelike setting that enhances their quality of life. Our company is unique in the sense that we offer both a personal care secure dementia unit and a skilled secure dementia unit. The personal care secure dementia unit is perfect for those with early stages of dementia who are ambulatory and able to perform some activities of daily living with supervision but somewhat independently. Skilled secure dementia unit is designed for the later stages where the individual is unable to ambulate, and requires physical assistance to complete activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, and bathing.
For more information and caregiver support, please call the Q-line at 1-866-884-6852 or visit one of our communities. Our care partners are there for you and your family.

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