This post is graciously provided by guest writer Elaine Hirsch.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is an unfortunate reality for many as they grow older. For some, symptoms may begin as early as midlife. As the disease progresses, ability to care for one’s self diminishes to the point of needing a caretaker. Often, children of Alzheimer’s patients step in to care for their parents. Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s is an emotionally difficult task. However, there are things a child can do to help their parent, and themselves, cope with the situation better.
Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently. The type and level of care needed is dependent upon the individual and the progression of the disease. Simple things, such as eating and bathing, can become difficult daily chores. Experimentation is necessary to come up with an effective daily care plan, but doing so makes life easier. According to WebMD, planning daily activities and establishing routines will help provide a patient structure and meaning, and familiar environments will prevent confusion and help them feel comfortable and safe.
As the disease progresses, a patient will decline mentally. Sadly, lost cognitive functions are gone forever. With declining mental faculties, adjusting daily activities is necessary. In addition, according to medical transcriptions of Alzheimer’s patients, weight loss, hypertension, fatigue, B12 deficiency, and osteoporosis are other symptoms that can stem from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s. Simple things, such as posting reminder notes, can help an Alzheimer’s patient navigate their surroundings. Some patients may wander or do things that are dangerous to themselves. It’s a good idea to remove all dangerous objects and to install alarms on doors to ring should a parent wander off. Communication and confusion are common in later stages of Alzheimer’s, so stay calm and patient. Remember, they too are frustrated by their disease.
Caring for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s takes patience, compassion, and energy, which can become exhausting over time. With all their focus on providing care, children of Alzheimer’s victims often overlook their own well-being. According to the National Institute on Aging, caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are at high risk for depression. Taking a break from caring for a parent allows for much needed rest and emotional recovery; this is good for both parent and child.
Looking after a parent with Alzheimer’s is a full-time responsibility. While services exist that help with in-home care, it may become too much for a person to handle on their own. Eventually, necessity may call for moving a parent into an assisted living facility. This is a difficult decision that a parent might resist, but remember; assisted living facilities employ trained professionals and provide around-the-clock care.
Having a parent who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease is difficult. It is important to take breaks from acting as a caregiver and try as much as possible to maintain a normal life. Support groups offer resources and emotional support to help through tough times. Ask questions and learn as much as possible about Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does this lend better perspective about what a parent is going through, but also helps when deciding about their treatment and future.Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. She currently writes for a master’s degree resource.
ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Parents