So you’ve received the news: your parent or loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The confusion, sadness and anxiety can be overwhelming.
The prognoses for patients with Alzheimer’s has historically been pretty bleak; it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and patients who receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis only live an average of eight years after their symptoms arise.
It isn’t all bad news, though.
There have been lauded scientific breakthroughs in potential treatments for the disease, and the Alzheimer’s Association works tirelessly to raise money for research and support. These efforts provide a ray of hope for patients and their families.
Unfortunately, no treatment or cure has been announced yet. And for the majority of sufferers and their loved ones, Alzheimer’s is a terrifying and confusing disease.
Navigating the changes that Alzheimer’s may bring can be equally troubling. As your loved one inevitably displays symptoms, you may wonder how to navigate the changes.
Bluebird Homecare understands your concerns.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of common changes associated with Alzheimer's and how to deal with them.
Changes in Relationships
This is perhaps one of the biggest worries that the families of patients with Alzheimer’s have.
How will the disease affect the way your loved one interacts with and relates to you?
Early-onset Alzheimer’s may affect many noticeable changes in how your loved one communicates and relates to you as a partner:
- Lack of interest in intimacy
- Reduced energy
- Difficulty articulating feelings or emotions
- Decline in personal independence
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Increased confusion or lack of planning and execution in day-to-day living
- Difficulty comprehending language
- Repeating questions or comments
As the disease progresses, difficulty with communication may become more apparent.
Many Alzheimer’s patients struggle with finding the correct words when speaking.
They may have lapses in attention span during conversations or struggle to understand others’ statements or instructions.
These changes can certainly be hard to navigate.
However, knowing how and why these changes occur in patients with Alzheimer’s can help you understand your loved one better and adapt to the coming days with more insight.
Changes in Behavior
Alzheimer’s can cause some changes in your loved one’s behavior and demeanor that you may not be prepared for.
It’s important to remember that the disease can cause these symptoms in even the most loving, patient and measured person.
A few of the behavior changes you may notice in your loved one:
- Changes in reactions. Becoming upset or anxious more easily than before.
- Pacing or wandering
- Imagining people or things that aren’t really there
- Frustration with communicating or trouble finding the right words
- Becoming easily agitated or aggressive
How Should You Adapt and Respond?
As the early stages of Alzheimer’s begin to affect your loved one, you will have to adapt your own behavior and communication towards them.
This can be a confusing, alienating, and painful process.
But it’s important to understand more efficient ways to communicate with your loved one with Alzheimer’s, especially if you’re new to the disease and its symptoms:
- Maintain eye contact when you speak to your loved one
- Be aware of your body language. Sudden movements or aggressive gestures might be overwhelming.
- Speak slowly and clearly, using friendly, even tones of voice
- Use visual cues if they’re relevant, to help your loved one better understand you
- Use their name when communicating directly to them
- Be patient when waiting for your loved one to respond or engage with you
Communicating more clearly and concisely can help you and your loved one avoid confusion.
Changes in Caregiving
As your loved one’s disease progresses, you may find yourself needing to step into a more active caregiving role.
This role is daunting.
For many of us, it’s scary.
But it’s important to ask for help if your find yourself in need.
Bluebird Homecare has over 28 years of experience in the private-duty homecare industry.
We understand how difficult it can be to seek out additional care options for your loved one.
That’s why we strive to hire caregivers who have special knowledge of the struggles that Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring.
We offer flexible scheduling that fits your loved one’s needs.
We also offer a 24/7 online portal where you can check on your loved one and get updates from their caregiver on their progress and activities.
Contact Bluebird Homecare to learn more about our specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving services.