Life with Alzheimer’s is an ongoing adjustment to an ever-changing condition. This applies not only to the person diagnosed but also to family members who fear the progressive nature of this disease. One question will inevitably arise; when should you to get assistance to help manage care? You might be surprised just how soon you should.
This disease is typically broken up into three stages: early, middle and late. Most diagnoses are made in the early and middle stages. The late stages of Alzheimer’s require around the clock assistance. Regardless of what stage you are facing, it is never too soon to get assistance. Be sure to have a solid plan in place for when difficulties arise or there is a crisis, which there will be at some time, you can count on that.
Look closely at the early and middle stage symptoms to see where your situation might land. Be sure to see if you have been trying to downplay the reality as well. This is common for those thinking things are not that bad and haven’t fully accepted the diagnosis. It is also easy for loved one to excuse the behavior thinking it is a normal part of aging.
In early stages, a person may still function independently. However, signs of memory lapses are occurring and others begin to notice difficulties. Problems mostly happen with memory or concentration. Common difficulties include:
- Difficulty coming up with the right word
- Trouble remembering names especially with new people
- Challenges performing simple tasks
- Forgetting material that one has just read
- Losing or misplacing a valuable object
- Increasing trouble with planning or organizing
The middle stage is marked by damage to nerve cells in the brain making it difficult to express thoughts or perform routine tasks. Symptoms are noticeable to others and may include:
- Confusion about time or dates
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feeling moody or withdrawn
- Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history
- An increased risk of wandering and becoming lost
- Being unable to recall personal address, telephone number or other key information
- Personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness, delusions, compulsive, or repetitive behavior
For some, one or more symptoms will show up in both the early and middle symptoms. This is common and as this disease progresses the signs become more prominent and advance. Some patients are clever at hiding their symptoms. Others will have problems controlling frustration and anger at the changes happening within them. Having assistance at each stage is important and beneficial to help cope with changes that are not only physical but mentally challenging.
Beginning treatment early in the disease process may help preserve daily functioning for some time, even though it cannot be stopped or reversed, families can take charge of their loved one’s well-being. Planning for the future is a must, not at a later more convenient time, but now. Take care of legal matters ahead of time, don’t be caught in a crisis and face going to court to gain a say in your loved one’s medical care. Having a power of attorney in hand is smart, this way you can quickly be in charge of making sure proper care is given at the right time.
Those with Alzheimer’s need help maintaining their mental functions and managing behavioral symptoms. Those in early states might be resistant to assistance but it is important to emphasize this is essential to their long-term care plan. The time to get assistance is the moment you get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Don’t delay this and seek out assistance before a crisis happens.
Medicaid programs are in place for those facing Alzheimer’s. These are to help develop a personalized ongoing care plan. CDPAP is a Medicaid program that requires a medical assessment be done to evaluate the patient’s needs and to authorize a certain number of hours per week a personal assistant can help them. One benefit of the assessment is that it can be redone as the condition of the patient changes, which will happen over time. Assistance can be started as little as a few hours a week, or it could also be daily care.
Imagine the possibilities of having extra help. What if there was someone who could help prepare meals for the day, or help you manage medications for your loved one. Having extra eyes looking after your loved one can be invaluable. A personal care assistant can also provide emotional support during tough times to those suffering from this progressive disease.
One key medical advantage of having assistance is setting up a repeatable schedule to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Routines can encourage proper sleeping and eating habits so that they are not facing additional health issues from poor nutrition or lack of sleep. Even for healthy adults, sleeping properly can be a challenge. Those suffering from cognitive issues need extra attention.
Skipping meals can also be a recipe for disaster. Seniors with Alzheimer’s need good nutrition to keep their brain and body health at its optimal level. Seniors may struggle with basic cooking skills and proper meal planning. Having a plan ensures regularly scheduled meals are available and is another example of how assistance can be helpful to those who have Alzheimer’s.
A final consideration is medication assistance. The need to take medications each day at the same time can be a challenge for those suffering from memory issues. Sometimes doses are skipped, while other times they can be accidentally taken twice. This can lead to serious health issues if not dealt with ahead of time.
Ultimately, adjusting to life with Alzheimer’s requires the acceptance of assistance for not only the patient but also for the family. It is impossible and unrealistic to have family members tackle this progressive disease alone. Getting help in place early is a smart choice, and is highly recommended to help those living with Alzheimer’s.