This is the 3rd in the series addressing assistance to the caregiver from the book, A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease, 300 Tips For Making Life Easier, by Patricia Callone, MA, MRE, Connie Kudlacek, BS, Barbara C. Vasiloff, MA, Janaan Manternack, D Min, and Roger Brumback, MD.
“The caregiver is now moving into the third phase of involvement with the person who has Alzheimer’s disease. You will find yourself using a direct, authoritative approach.
- You need to take the lead in making most of the decisions regarding the welfare of the person for whom you are caring. You will need to keep your own health and energy level high, so that you can respond to the rapidly changing needs of the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
- The extreme difficulty in communicating is frustrating for both the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s disease. It is critically important that, as a caregiver, you continue to talk to your loved one about the food, the weather, the place, someone you’ve been with, upcoming events like doctor appointments, a social activity , or current news. Focus on ways to keep the person in touch with what is going on.
- In this final phase, you may be dealing with finances and alternative housing, as well as insurance issues. Hopefully, you will have previously discussed end-of-life issues with the person who has Alzheimer’s disease. You may find it difficult to accept the fact that your loved one no longer recognizes you.
The caregiver can consider these tips when working with the person in the Severe Stage of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Talk in a slow, controlled manner to the person with dementia even if he does not respond. Your voice can be a comfort.
- Concentrate on caring for the person with dignity. Be attentive to dress and surroundings, even as the body loses control of functions.
- Take time to listen.
- Remember that the person for whom you are caring is in control of accepting or rejecting the food, help, comfort you want to give. Caregivers are in control of cleanliness, the person’s safety needs, and listening and watching to discern the loved one’s wishes.
- Acquaint hospital staff with the person’s abilities and habits. Try to arrange any hospitalizations to avoid overnight stays. It would be better to take the person home and have in-home assistance than to stay in an unfamiliar place. If a stay is necessary, bring familiar items with you, such as a blanket, pictures, favorite music, or a favorite book. This helps put everyone more at ease and reduces the possibility of agitation.
- Consider the option of hospice care. Hospice care can be delivered in the home, at a nursing facility, or at a residence such as a hospice house.
- Take time to be with the person who is receiving hospice care. Hold the person’s hand, kiss her on the cheek, rub or pat her hand…anything to let the person know that you are present.”