Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are slow and progressive illnesses. The different theories and views of Alzheimer’s stages, according to David Troxel, co-developer of the Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s care, believes that understanding three basic stages can help families prepare for the caregiving journey.
In this stage – people retain some insight into their situation, but get more and more confused and forgetful. They may lose language skills, have trouble handling money and paying bills, forget once-familiar tasks and have some personality changes. During this stage it can be tough for the family to manage issues around driving and money management.
This is the point at which most families intervene and seek help for their loved one. They may arrange a power of attorney in order to manage finances, and turn to an adult day center, in home senior care provider or residential care community during this stage of dementia. Socialization and support are important at all stages of the Alzheimer’s journey, but they are a key intervention during middle dementia. Structuring the day, arranging activities, and preventing isolation are important goals— goals that in home workers who have completed the Home Instead Senior Care® network’s Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia Program support.
Late in the illness, the person is more prone to falls and infection. The swallowing reflex often declines, making the person vulnerable to aspiration pneumonia. S/he may lose full control of bladder and bowels. Caregiving becomes quite profound and focused on physical care and well-being. Although the person may not recognize family or friends, it’s important to continue expressing love and affection. There’s still a person inside, who needs dignity and respect. Of great help during this final period are hospice services, which can provide excellent medical, spiritual and social care.
“Supportive companions are important no matter where your family member is in this long journey,” says Troxel. “Building a strong network of caregivers, support groups, and friends can help a family prepare for and address needs and challenges at every stage of Alzheimer’s.” To find support groups, contact the local Alzheimer’s Society in Canada.
To find in home care support, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office in Mississauga at 905- 276-2273.
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