Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease can be hard not only on the individual suffering, but also for the family members who are caring for them. In this post we will be addressing a lot of issues surrounding seniors and Alzheimer’s Disease.
It can be heartbreaking when a parent or a loved one gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While they will be able to function normally for a while, inevitably they’ll start to show signs of being unable to cope on their own. This is due to the progressive nature of this disease.
It’s insidious because it slowly creeps up on the patient and they do not even realize what’s happening. For people who have lived their lives being solely independent, it can be hard for them to reach out to others for help. As a guardian, it will be your duty to keep an eye out on your loved one to see if they need help with their day to day living.
Signs of Alzheimer’s that indicate a senior needs long-term care or a full-time caregiver include:
Letting The Daily Chores Slide
This is the most obvious sign. It’s especially obvious if the patient was a highly neat and organized person. When the disease progresses, the patient may neglect their daily chores.
Their house will get messy. The dishes will start piling up. Old food will not be thrown out. Broken appliances won’t be fixed. Basically, their house will slowly fall into a state of disrepair.
The sad irony here is that the state of their home starts to reflect the state of their mind. It’s imperative that you speak to the patient and find out why their living conditions have taken a turn for the worse.
In some cases, depression may have set in and they’re not in a mood to do anything. But for the most part, it will be due to Alzheimer’s and the patient will not even realize that his/her living conditions have deteriorated.
Their Personal Hygiene is no Longer a Priority
Just like how the house and chores get neglected, a senior with Alzheimer’s may also forget to brush his/her teeth, take a shower, change their clothes and so on.
They may wear the wrong clothes when going out or not iron their clothes, at all. They no longer pay attention to how they look and can’t care what others think about them.
They Are Showing Signs of Erratic Behavior
Another very common sign is behavior that doesn’t seem normal. The patient may be easily agitated. There have been many cases where a senior who is suffering from Alzheimer’s physically abuses his/her partner. These actions may be the total opposite of how they behaved before their mental faculties started to slip.
The patient may also have bruises and cuts that they have no idea how they got. They may have fallen or accidentally injured themselves but have no memory of it.
Their driving may be unpredictable as well. Since this is a very dangerous situation to be in, steps must be taken to prevent them from driving. Getting their license revoked, removing their car keys, etc. are measures that one can take to arrest this problem before it ends in a worst-case scenario where someone loses their life.
They Are Not Aware of Where Their Money is Being Spent
While coping with Alzheimer’s, seniors can literally spend hundreds of dollars on items they don’t need. They’ll not have a care in the world about their budget. To make matters worse, they may forget that they bought all those unnecessary products and suddenly worry and wonder where all their money has gone.
**Be sure to check all their bills. Have they bought products they don’t need? Are there unnecessary charges on their credit card statement?
Also take note if they’re paying anyone for services that they don’t require. There are unscrupulous people who will try and take advantage of the elderly for financial gain. You’ll need to be on high alert here.
These are just some of the signs that the patient’s mental faculties are slipping and you need to step in and help them out. Initially, there may be a period of adjustment that will be a test of patience to all involved, but once the senior gets used to the help and care, they’ll rely on you even without realizing it.
This is a disease that affects both the patient and the ones who care for them. If you find yourself getting depressed and irritable, it may be time to hire a full-time caregiver to help you shoulder some of the burden. This is one of the best decisions you could make. Our Caregivers at YHTC go through extensive dementia care training and only caregivers who have successfully completed the “Living with Joy” training program are assigned to care for our clients with memory impairment or dementia at any stage.
Understanding The 7 A’s of Alzheimer’s Disease
There are several terms that are used to describe the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s easy to get confused and not know what the medical professionals are talking about.
Let’s take a look at some of the terms used when talking about dementia or AD (Alzheimer’s Disease). Knowing them will be helpful to you if you’re a caring for someone who has this disease.
This is the state of not knowing that one has Alzheimer’s. Unlike a sexually transmitted disease which has very visible symptoms such as lesions, etc. with mental problems, there are seldom any visible symptoms.
In fact, over 80% of AD sufferers don’t even know they have the disease when it’s in the mild stage. They may experience increased forgetfulness and mood swings, but these symptoms are not out of the ordinary.
The fact that their frontal lobes may be affected adversely might help to explain why they’re unaware of the disease’s presence even when others around them can tell that something is wrong. Their brain goes into denial and makes them believe that everything is normal.
This is the condition that’s most often shown in movies to elicit emotions from the viewers. When a senior is unable to recognize his or her loved ones, it’s a sign of agnosia.
The inability to remember faces, names, places, voices, etc. is all categorized under agnosia.
This is a loss of speech and the ability to write. It occurs because of the progressive degeneration of the brain tissue that associated with these cognitive functions. Once a patient with Alzheimer’s has aphasia, getting them to respond to you when speaking to them can be a difficult task.
This is a condition where there is a loss of basic motor skills. Everything that used to be easy becomes increasingly difficult now. Taking a shower, changing one’s clothes, walking, eating, etc. become almost impossible as the disease progresses.
Apraxia also increases the patient’s fall risk factor. So, a full-time caregiver may be necessary to monitor them constantly.
A very common term – amnesia refers to the inability to remember. With an Alzheimer’s patient, they will experience short term memory loss in the beginning. They may forget what they had for lunch or what time it is, even if they just glanced at the clock 10 minutes earlier.
As the disease progresses, long term memory loss occurs. This is when they forget events in their life such as their weddings, birthdays, holidays, etc. This can very depressing to the patient who seems to have no idea what he or she experienced before.
The best way to describe this situation is a line from Jarod Kintz’s book (This Book Has No Title) – “Alzheimer’s is the cleverest thief, because she not only steals from you, but she steals the very thing you need to remember what’s been stolen.”
This is a situation where the mind misinterprets the information provided by the five senses. This occurs due to cognitive decline.
They may experience hallucinations at times or misperceptions. A red tiled floor may look like blood or a stone may look like a bun from the bakery. This confusion can be upsetting to the patient.
Apathy occurs when the patient displays no interest in life anymore. They’re not motivated to do anything and rarely show any excitement. This can be hard on family members and caregiver who need to work twice as hard to help the patient engage in activities.
These 7 A’s can be seen in most Alzheimer’s sufferers. While they may not display all seven, there will at least be a couple that are evident. Now that you understand the terms and symptoms, you’ll know what to look out for.
Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease is not an easy feat. If you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and you feel overwhelmed, our staff of highly trained and compassionate caregivers are here to help! Whether you need full-time or part-time assistance, our caregivers can help care for your senior loved one and you both cope with the challenges at each stage of this disease. It’s time to get the support you need, contact us for more information at: 865-332-5000
Information Sources Cited in this post:
- Image 1: https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/do-i-have-dementia/10-warning-signs-dementia