Becoming a family caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s will bring you days of immense joy and moments of overwhelming sorrow. There is just no way around those two extremes. Knowing what to expect can help you cross those chasms a little easier. When your parent acts out, forgets, accuses or becomes confused, you’ll understand it is the disease process in action, the tangles and plaques that are forming in your parent’s brain causing cells to die and synapses to fail.
There are three general stages of Alzheimer’s, a normally slow-progressing disease that gives both patients and caregivers time to cherish the present moments while they look to solutions for the future. Getting a caregiving team in place and developing a routine in the early stages can help smooth the transition to the later stages. Routine will become increasingly important to your parent whose world is changing ever-so-slowly, but steadily.
The first stage is considered the mild or early-stage. In this stage, your parent is still functioning independently. They may even still be driving. Your parent may notice that they are having a hard time coming up with specific words and you may notice that they are forgetting things they use to remember and unable to recall where certain household items are commonly found. They will have increasing trouble planning events and schedules, even making out the grocery list, and may become agitated as they search for forgotten words or names.
Stage Two is considered moderate or middle-stage Alzheimer’s. It is usually the longest of the three stages and can last for many years. During this phase, your parent will have increasing memory loss. They may start to need help with the everyday activities of living such as bathing, dressing appropriately and preparing meals. Their sleep patterns may change so that they sleep during the day and become restless at night. This pattern and the inability to recall once familiar places leads to an increasing susceptibility to patterns of behavior know as “sundowning” and “wandering.” Sundowning refers to increasing agitation as dusk settles in. It is at this time that repetitive behavior is often noted such as tissue shredding or the wringing of hands. They may become aggressive or accusatory.
Wandering occurs when a person is searching for a place that is familiar and they wander off and become lost. At this stage, it is best for them not to be left alone.
The final stage of Alzheimer’s or late-stage brings increasing disabilities and eventually the inability to walk or sit up without help. They will require help with all of their daily needs and will be unable to communicate or remember recent experiences as well as where they are. They become increasingly prone to pneumonia.
While the third stage sounds disheartening, know that studies are always on-going and the search for a cure is continuing. Even though a cure has not been discovered, varying lifestyle changes has been shown to slow the progression of this disease. Wear purple today and have hope for tomorrow.
Elder Care Provider
When your parent needs help with the everyday activities of living, consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider. These professionals have cared for countless seniors facing this disease and understand the unique circumstances and challenges that each of them face.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING IN-HOME CAREGIVERS IN SUMMERLIN, NV, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY 702-800-4616.