What Should Family Caregivers Be Prepared to Handle as Alzheimer's Shows Signs of Progress?
Alzheimer's is one of the more difficult diseases you'll encounter as a family caregiver. This type of dementia often lasts a decade or longer with an average duration of four to eight years after it's professionally diagnosed. It's not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer's disease to survive for 20 years.
The early stages are not that bad. There's some forgetfulness, but your parent will function independently for the most part. You may need to remind your parent of an appointment or help with shopping lists. As the disease progresses, you do need to be prepared to handle other symptoms that can seem more alarming. Here are some of the situations you may encounter.
Your mom or dad may start forgetting how to read the body's signs that a bathroom trip is needed. They may forget how to find the bathroom. You'll need to carefully monitor bathroom trips and make sure someone is there to guide your parent to the bathroom every couple of hours.
If an accident occurs, it's best to quickly dismiss it as it happens to everyone. Quickly do a quick shower or clean up with a warm washcloth, dress your parent in dry, clean clothes, and move on. There may come a time when incontinence pads or adult diapers are needed. Ask a doctor for guidance on how to know when to introduce them.
Delusions and Paranoia
Delusions happen in the middle and late stages. Your mom or dad will be convinced something is happening. It could be that a relative is stealing your parent's items or that a neighbor has threatened them. Some people with Alzheimer's insist that someone is looking in their window all night. Others might see someone sitting in your car, but no one is there.
Don't argue or try to correct. Simply agree that it would be very frightening to experience that and redirect to a fun activity or get a snack to change your parent's focus.
Random Moments of Anger and Rage
As Alzheimer's progresses into the middle and late stages, anger may become an issue. Your mom or dad becomes so angry as the brain function deteriorates that it's common to have your parent go from happy to furious in seconds. Pain, frustration, and lack of sleep can all worsen it.
Verbal and physical abuse may occur when anger flares. Your parent may seem fine one minute and punching you the next time you walk by. If this happens, you need the help of medical professionals to find out how to manage the rage.
Make Sure You Have Other Caregivers Helping
Family caregivers who help with the stages of Alzheimer's need to make sure they're taking breaks often. You might not feel like you need a break at that moment, but you must take one anyway. Stress can build up and leave you struggling to get through a day. Call a home care agency and arrange to have professional caregivers helping you provide the care your mom or dad needs.