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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease means dealing with many changes over time. What may start out as simply laying out clothes and little notes to serve as memory prompts around the house, may turn into changing locks to make sure your loved one doesn’t wander off, turning down the water heater to avoid burns, and making sure stove tops are off.
As the person’s needs change, so does the role of the caregiver. As the disease continues to progress, your loved one will need more and more care. The caregiver’s role will evolve from making sure your loved one can maintain as much independence as possible to taking responsibility for nearly constant care.
If you are providing all of, or most of the care for your loved one, you will go through many different emotions as you cope with the challenges and demands of your new role. Many people will experience anger, resentment, and cycles of grief as the person you care for loses the ability to relate or communicate. When caregiving becomes too much to handle it can even result in a burnout.
In the U.S. approximately 70% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s remain in their own homes, with the help of a spouse or other family member, throughout the course of the illness. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be very demanding and challenging. Fortunately, there are services to help as the loved ones needs change. They include support groups, home health support, adult day care, respite care, and hospice care. There is no need to deal with the ups and downs of caregiving on your own. Let people help you.
More than likely a person with Alzheimer’s disease is going to walk, wander, or pace. As caregivers we must structure their environment to be as safe as possible for this type of activity. A person with Alzheimer’s has perception difficulty. Things such as good lighting without a lot of glare can reduce this misperception, thus reducing anxiety.
Removing clutter from around the floor is also very important. Items such as foot stools, baskets, kids toys, or plants on the floor increase confusion and can be unsafe. Remove obstacles.
There are also many products that can increase safety and security around the house, such as bells, alarms, and locks that can prevent your loved one from wandering out of the house.
Insomnia can be a common issue with Alzheimer’s, but not all individuals experience it. If your loved one does, here are some tips to deal with it.
When you are dealing with a situation like this, you must keep in mind that you’re going through a grieving process. One of the stages of grief is anger and it is very normal. The important thing to remember is not to let the anger get so bad that it affects your mental health or physical health.
When grieving you will likely go through multiple different stages. Some don’t experience as many stages as others, or experience them at different levels. The grieving process is an individual process and each person will go through it in their own unique way.
The usual stages of grief are:
Since Alzheimer’s has multiple stages, it is possible that you will experience the grieving process for each stage. Know that it is a common response. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself be angry. Deal with your feelings and then you will be in a better emotional state to help your loved one.
Absolutely! Journaling is recommended for everyone, but especially people in stressful situations such as caregiving.
To journal is to put your feelings down on paper, just between you and the pages. If you worry that someone may go through it, just keep it in a secure place. But not so secure you forget to write in it!
Make journaling part of your routine. It doesn’t necessarily have to be daily, but just on a regular basis. It’s like exercise for your brain and emotions. It doesn’t have to be long time consuming stories either, just enough that you can get things off your chest. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Deal with your guilt, resentment, anger, fear, or any other emotions you feel. If you are feeling these things, you need to deal with them, and journaling is a healthy way to do that. For many caregivers the journaling process can help them to release some of the feelings and thoughts that have been troubling them.
Overall journaling can help relieve a lot of stress. Leaving you to be in a better state as a caregiver, and thus in a better position to take care of your loved one.
The term “sandwich generation” refers to families that are not only raising their children, but are also caring for a parent or grandparent, while perhaps also holding a job. This adds a complicated dimension to the family unit. The grandparent can become harsh or abrupt with the children. The children may feel the grandparent is taking up there space. Trying to balance care for your children, a parent, and a spouse is a very difficult act for a primary caregiver. It is a very stressful job.
A support group is highly recommended to aid with coping strategies. Being around others that are experiencing or have already experienced what you are going through can be a tremendous benefit. Not only can they offer you advice on how to cope with the trials and tribulations of what you are going through, they can act a living proof that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. There are support group’s designed to address the needs of everyone involved in the process. Finding the right support group can help a family work through the process.
Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not have the certification to accept Medicaid once a resident runs out of money. Those facilities that do accept can have a long waiting list for their Medicaid beds. In the event that your loved one exhausts their funds and there is not a Medicaid bed available for them, they will be forced to find a new facility. You must make careful considerations in where you place your loved one if money is going to be an issue down the road.
If you think your loved one may outlive his or her money, you can choose a facility that accepts Medicaid to cover the cost of their care. This can keep your loved one in the same spot and avoiding moving her. However, you still must be concerned about whether or not they will have openings when your loved one’s funds are exhausted. Changing to new environments can be difficult for a person with dementia.
Long-term care is a difficult path to travel. Without proper planning it can be result in financial devastation and even eat away at your hard earned savings. For information on the process, contact Jones Elder Law today.
The answer is still not known. What researchers are currently saying is that if you have a relative with Alzheimer’s disease you have a greater chance of developing the disease than someone who has no family history of it.
Just because more than one of your family members is affected by Alzheimer’s does not necessarily indicate that your family has one of the strongly-inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
As a suggestion to those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you need to deal with it in a constructive way. It may be hard, but it’s not worth ruining your quality of life over something that may or may not happen. If you are still worried about it join a support group. If there isn’t one available, start your own. Even going out to coffee with other family members who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s can help.
When discussing any issue involving medication or the health of your loved one, it is best to contact their doctor first. If your loved one has several doctors, contact the primary care physician who sees him regularly and writes orders for medications.
If the doctor feels it is safe, they will advise you about how much alcohol is okay for your loved one. It is best to follow these guidelines as too much alcohol could cause an adverse reaction, which could lead to your love one becoming violent, lethargic, or exhibit one of many other types of behaviors related to alcohol consumption.
Wine, on occasion, might even be suggested by a physician. For some people with Alzheimer’s it has a very calming effect. Some people with Alzheimer’s even drink wine before bed to help them sleep.
So you are considering a caregiver for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. The amount of training your caregiver needs depends on the level of care your loved one requires. A home health/private duty agency can assist you through this process. For example, if you are looking for some assistance with duties around the house such as cooking and cleaning, a housekeeper would be your choice. If you’re loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and still is fairly independent but you don’t want to leave them alone, a sitter would be appropriate. ( Request an individual who has experience with dementia.) When your loved one begins to require help with things such as bathing, dressing, and toileting, then a certified nurse aid may be necessary. Only if your loved one requires skilled services would a nurse become involved. This usually occurs after a hospital stay.
Using a home care agency will provide you the guidance and assistance you need in this situation. The agency will take care of the hiring, background checks, payroll and benefits, training, and dismissal. It’s typically worth paying a little extra to have more support.