This is the first in a series of articles adapted from A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease, 300 Tips For Making Life Easier, written by Patricia Callone, MA, MRE, Connie Kudlacek, BS, Barbara Vasiloff, MA, Janaan Manternach, D Min, and Roger Brumback, MD. This is a very reader-friendly, accessible guide offering a host of tips and techniques on how to cope with the 3 stages of advancing Alzheimer’s Disease. (The book is available on Amazon)
This first excerpt provides tips to assist the caregiver in the early to mild stage of Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Learn as much about the disease as you can, before problems arise. Be proactive.
- Go to your family physician for a thorough medical exam when you suspect something is wrong,and visit a geriatric assessment center or other medical facility specializing in Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Many things can cause dementia, and sometimes the dementia can be helped, although often it is irreversible.
- Try to understand and talk about the brain functions that remain and those that are lost, based on what the person with dementia is experiencing.
- Share with others in the family who want to know more about the disease any and all information that you have.
- Call a family forum to discuss life transitions as well as changing stresses in the family. Consider including the person with dementia in this discussion.
- Be ready for your own denial, and denial by your loved one and other family members, that the disease is affecting someone you care deeply about.
- Be open in discussing with others the information that you, your spouse, or a friend has Alzheimer’s disease.
- Talk with a spiritual counselor bout your feelings. A Counselor can help sort out what is fact and what is feeling.
- Seek counsel with your relatives, friends, and counselors at the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. If you are your own caregiver, lay out a plan for your long term comfort and care.
- Identify family, friends, and outside sources who will assist you when you carry the burden of full responsibility for overseeing all issues of daily life.
- Be prepared to take the leadership role in all activities of daily living: It is important that all financial andlegal documents be put in place while the person with Alzheimer’s disease can be a part of that process.
- Educate yourself on the resources available from the local or national chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association. Even a limited knowledge can help you help others you meet who might become a caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.
- …consult the Alzheimer’s Assocation local chapter, which has materials for you to learn about the subtle changes that arise in each of the key functions of the brain as the disease progresses.
- Be an active listener and really hear what is important to the person for whom you are caring. He may want to talk bout sensitive issues such as long-term care or power of attorney. He may want to tell you things he is aware of that are causing him concern. Remember that the disease will set the pace for what is to come. In many cases, the person for whom you are caring may not want to prepare for the future. Don’t force this kind of dialogue; simply move forward on these issues at his pace. Sometimes, too, your physician, will suggest that certain steps must be taken. Follow them when you can.
The next article will appear on Monday, March 1st and promises to provide the reader with memory clues for the person with early to mild Alzheimer’s Disease…..
Go to Raleigh Geriatric Care Management for more information about help for an aging loved one.