Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s: How to Recognize the Symptoms and Find Care. By Mike Jackson, Owner of Home Helpers Boise, Idahopurple-ribbon

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and fatal brain disease affecting as many as 5.3 million Americans. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), someone develops the disease every 70 seconds. As the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., these statistics are alarming. Though there is no known cure, treatments for symptoms combined with the right services and support can greatly improve one’s quality of life.

At Home Helpers, we are dedicated to providing quality non-medical and personal care to help make life easier for both the Alzheimer’s patient and their loved ones. Early detection is critical to ensuring those who are diagnosed are receiving proper care. We encourage families to talk to their loved one’s doctors if they suspect their loved one may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s. Below are the top 10 warning signs that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory Loss: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently learned information. This includes forgetting important dates and events, such as birthdays or anniversaries, or asking for the same information time and time again.
  2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks: Pay attention to your loved one’s driving abilities. Those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have trouble driving to a familiar location or remembering how to get home. Sometimes, those with Alzheimer’s will forget weekly tasks that they always do at a specific time.
  3. Confusion with time: Those with Alzheimer’s may lose track of time or the passing of seasons. If they were once able to remember the dates of future events, but are now having trouble understanding something that is not presently happening, it is important to discuss it with their doctor.
  4. Lack of understanding visual images: Though vision problems are associated with aging process, they could also be signs of Alzheimer’s. Does your loved one have problems reading or determining colors? Do they ever mistake their reflection in the mirror as someone else? If so, speak to their doctor immediately.
  5. Misplacing things: Your loved one may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s if they are suddenly putting things in bizarre places. For example, do the keys end up in the freezer? Do you find that your loved one is blaming others for taking things when the household item was sitting right in front of them all along?
  6. Change in judgment: People with Alzheimer’s may have a drastic change in judgment. They may have always been good with money, but all of a sudden, you find they are giving away large sums. It is also important to pay attention to their hygiene. Have they lost interest in showering and brushing their teeth?
  7. Withdrawal from social activities: Those with Alzheimer’s may start to isolate themselves from their everyday social activities and/or hobbies because they have forgotten about them. They may also be self-conscious of the changes their experiencing.
  8. Personality changes: Someone with Alzheimer’s can have an entire personality change to a point where their family and friends do not even recognize them. They may have been a cheerful person who is now always confused, anxious and depressed. They may have always been social, but now feel uncomfortable when they are around strangers.
  9. Problems with abstract thinking and problem-solving: Is your loved one having trouble remembering simple mathematical equations or following recipes? If it is taking them longer than normal to complete certain problem-solving tasks, it may be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
  10. Challenges with writing and speaking: Alzheimer’s patients may have trouble participating in conversations. Pay attention to the way you talk to them on the phone or in person. Do they suddenly stop in the middle of the conversation and ask what the conversation is about? Maybe weekly letters or e-mails are starting to have more vocabulary errors.

If you notice your loved one exhibiting any of the signs above, it is important to speak with their doctor. If you determine your loved one requires the assistance of a caregiver, one of the biggest decisions you will make is whether you want a caregiver who provides medical care, non-medical care, or both.

It is critical to complete all the necessary steps to guarantee that the best caregiver has been chosen. Begin your search by making sure the caregiver you choose has been thoroughly screened, including a drug test, personal interviews and references, and a criminal background check.

Also, make sure that you understand the agency’s structure and research the requirements for caregivers. For example, in the state of Idaho, some caregivers are Certified Nurse’s Assistants (CNA) under the direction of a Registered Nurse (RN). You should be familiar with the care services the caregivers are trained to provide.

Though caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be an emotional and stressful situation, it is important to recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and to understand the most efficient method to finding a caregiver for your loved one. Having knowledge of this process will help relieve some stress and will help to ensure your loved one is being cared for properly.

This article was submitted by Mike Jackson, the owner of Home Helpers of Boise Idaho, a home care agency specializing in non-medical and personal care services, including companionship, bathing, meal preparation, dressing assistance, medication reminders, local transportation and light housekeeping. For more information, contact MikeJackson@HomeHelpersHomeCare.com. Or you can visit Home Helpers website at http://www.HomeHelpersHomeCare.com/BoiseID.

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