Caregiving through the Stages of Alzheimer’s

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be devastating, both for the patient and for their caregiver. Both will need time to adjust to the reality of the diagnosis. It is important for everyone to know that the illness will not diminish the importance of the person with Alzheimer’s in lives of their loved ones.

In order to have appropriate expectations, and to be able to plan properly, it is worth understanding what each stage of Alzheimer’s looks like.

Early-Stage

  1. Most people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can still live independent lives. A caregiver should use this time with their loved one to make important decisions about and plans for the future.
  2. Start treatment as soon as possible. Early intervention can slow the progression of the disease and lessen the severity of symptoms.
  3. Understand that both the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregiver will go through a grieving process. Accepting your feelings and talking about them will enable to handle them more easily.
  4. Caregiver’s should not forget about their own care: joining a formal or informal support group can help keep you healthy, both physically and emotionally. The Alzheimer’s Organization website offers a wealth of information and support for people coping with this diagnosis.

Middle-Stage

  1. The middle stage of Alzheimer’s is typically the longest, often lasting years. It is important to remain patient, flexible, and even hopeful at this time. The disease may be progressing, but there are still good days to be enjoyed.
  2. Taking care of a person with Alzheimer’s can be exhausting. As a caregiver’s responsibilities grow, they may find that the needs of the rest of their family, and even their own personal needs, are increasingly overlooked. It is important to consider respite care when required so that life retains balance and joy.
  3. Safety concerns start to arise during the middle stage of Alzheimer’s. Usually the patient will need to stop driving. Communication and basic grooming may become increasingly difficult. As this progresses, scale down expectations of what activities are appropriate. Simple activities, like taking a walk in a familiar setting, can enhance the person’s quality of life and reduce the anxiety that often grows during middle-stage Alzheimer’s.
  4. Toward the end of the middle stage, it will become unsafe for your loved one to live alone, and it will become time to consider other living arrangements. If this involves moving into a care facility, be sure to find one that offers special services for residents with Alzheimer’s.

Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

  1. The late stage of Alzheimer’s, which can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, involves a serious deterioration in health. The person with Alzheimer’s may have trouble walking, and even swallowing. They will likely need full-time help.
  2. Enhance their life and preserve their dignity in whatever ways possible. While a person in the late stages of Alzheimer’s may no longer be able to communicate, research shows that they can still enjoy activities such as looking through old photo albums, getting a massage, or even having their hair gently brushed.
  3. It is likely that at this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s will not be able to stay at home, even with assistance. Be sure that any facility you consider for them offers staff who are well trained in handling the needs of a person who may be nonverbal and bedridden.
  4. Late-stage Alzheimer’s brings some of the most difficult decisions about care. The caregiver should have lots of emotional support during this stressful time, and know that there are no simple decisions. It is important for them make peace with the decisions that they make.

Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, provides care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.

For the safety and well-being of cognitively impaired residents, Atlantic Coast offers a separate secure unit. The wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate, creating an environment with a sense of familiarity and security.

The Alzheimer’s unit caregivers are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love.

The cognitively impaired care program helps patients maximize their cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life.

For patients in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm.

Read our reviews on senioradvisor.com, caring.com, and wellness.com to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.

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