As a family member or friend of someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia (Click here for Alzheimer’s Checklist), you shoulder a particularly heavy burden. Helping this person keep some sort of normalcy is key because the type of care needed is physically and emotionally demanding. Elder Home Care is here to help. Understanding that you are not alone is the first step as seen in these figures:
- Over 4.5 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
- About one in ten people over age 65 have the disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia affect up to 50 percent of people over the age of 85.
Elder Home Care provides non-medical Alzheimer’s care services in the home. Most Alzheimer’s patients－particularly those in the early and middle stages of the illness－can be cared for at home instead of nursing homes and other facilities. More than half of all diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients continue to live in home settings. Eighty to ninety percent of these rely on family and friends for care. With Elder Hone Care specialty Alzheimer’s home care services, your loved one will receive a customized care regimen that will take into account their environment and special needs, thereby making daily life less difficult and stressful.
Elder Home Care Alzheimer’s Care and Dementia
- Continuity of daily routines and schedule
- A familiar frame of reference
- Freedom to move about in a more familiar and unrestricted space
- A way to minimize those stresses that can aggravate the symptoms of dementia and the Alzheimer’s disease
- Daily orientation to time, place, and person
One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s is far from the only type of dementia, but it is the most common, and the number of people affected by it is on the rise due to a growing senior population. Women and minorities are the most likely to develop the disease, and one in three seniors, the association states, dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
It’s possible for a loved one to have dementia and not have Alzheimer’s because Alzheimer’s disease is just one form of dementia. Dementia itself is actually a symptom, not a disease. Other types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, short-term memory loss and Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease. For all forms of dementia, there is a decline in mental function.
Another common symptom of all forms of dementia is wandering, which can pose great safety risks. Other symptoms are specific to certain types of dementia, such as the tremors and other motion function issues that people with Parkinson’s often develop as a result of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t progress at a predictable rate. For some people, the symptoms will develop slowly over more than a decade, while for others, the disease can seem to worsen rapidly in just a few years. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with Alzheimer’s live eight to 10 years after diagnosis on average, though some live twice as long.
While Alzheimer’s stages aren’t crisply demarcated — and everyone’s experience with the disease’s progression will be unique — doctors have identified three main stages that most people with the disease experience.
Stage 1: Mild Alzheimer’s
In this stage, which typically lasts two to four years, a person with Alzheimer’s may or may not even notice they’re developing the condition. Bouts of forgetfulness may get written off as “senior moments,” especially if longer-term memories are still intact. At this point, family members may begin to notice something is off about a loved one, and doctors may be able to make an initial, watch-and-wait diagnosis. Symptoms at this stage can include:
- Frequent memory lapses, such as forgetting names or misplacing things
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks that were once easy, such as paying bills or grocery shopping
- Taking longer than usual to perform routine tasks, such as making a pot of coffee or sorting the mail
- Difficulty multitasking, such as carrying on a conversation while cooking or driving
- Difficulty solving problems when tasks can’t be completed in the usual manner
- Poor judgement or decision-making
Stage 2: Moderate Alzheimer’s
By now, there’s usually no question that a person is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Doctors will often run memory tests and perform brain scans to make a more definitive diagnosis. People may remain in this stage for a few years or more than a decade, depending on how the disease progresses. During this stage, patients with Alzheimer’s may become increasingly frustrated or withdrawn as they begin to come to terms with the diagnosis. Caregivers may need to begin coordinating supervised care. Symptoms can include:
- Increased memory loss, including forgetting parts of personal history
- Confusion (for example, not knowing where they are or what day or season it is)
- Difficulty with language, reading and writing, and working with numbers
- Changes in personality and mood, including suspiciousness, delusions, and angry outbursts
- Impulsive behavior, like undressing at inappropriate times
- Greater risk of wandering off or getting lost
- Needing help with daily activities like choosing appropriate clothing for the weather, bathing and grooming, or using the bathroom
- Restlessness and agitation, especially late in the day
- In some people, trouble controlling bowel and bladder function
Stage 3: Severe Alzheimer’s
As cognitive function continues to decline — and in this stage, the decline can be more rapid as well — people may have a hard time having even basic conversations. Around-the-clock care will be necessary for the patient’s own safety, as people at this stage are unable to eat, go to the bathroom, move around, and perform other daily activities by themselves. While this final stage tends to be briefer than other stages, it can still span several years.
- Losing the ability to walk, sit, hold up their head, swallow
- Inability to communicate
- Groaning, moaning, or grunting
- Sleeping more
- No longer recognizing family or friends or responding to surroundings
- Becoming more vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia