One of the hardest decisions we must make as a child, grandchild, or responsible relative to an elderly loved one is what to do when they reach the point in their life where they can no longer safely live on their own. That decision comes much sooner when your loved one suffers from some form of dementia. Dementia is the term used to categorize a group of symptoms relating to the progressive decline in a person’s mental abilities caused by a specific type of brain cell degeneration and damage. One of the most common diseases with dementia symptoms is Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that gradually destroys memory and cognitive function. This is caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins in and around the brain cells and their connections, causing them to degenerate and eventually die at a rapid rate. Approximately 5.8 million people aged 65 and older in the United States alone are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and although it is considered to be a “disease of age”, Early-Onset Alzheimer’s, which affects people as young as 30 years old, makes up 6%-7% of that population. Regardless of age, this disease slowly causes the brain to atrophy, or shrink, as it destroys a person’s mental abilities.
There is a common misconception that Alzheimer’s is a deadly disease of the brain, but this is not necessarily true. The disease itself is not the cause of death for those who suffer from it until their end of life. As the disease destroys more and more brain cells, the symptoms become progressively worse. In its adolescence it noticeably affects a person’s memory and ability to concentrate or multitask. You may notice your loved one repeating questions or statements during conversation, or they lack the focus to hold a conversation all together. They begin to struggle with comprehending abstract concepts, especially numbers and mathematics. This becomes a serious issue as the disease progresses because as they lose their ability to perform mathematical functions, paying bills becomes an impossible task and they may forget that they even have bills to pay at all. As the disease matures it begins to have detrimental effects on the portion of the brain that controls cognitive abilities and fine motor skills.
At this stage it is common for your loved one to lose the ability to perform familiar tasks like:
- dressing themselves
Eventually the debilitating effects on the brain leave your loved one unable to perform any task or motor skill on their own, including feeding themselves, swallowing food or drink, and moving any body part.
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another progressive disease of the brain, it is usually recommended that they receive some kind care and supervision. Hiring an in-home caregiver is often the best option during the early to middle stages of these dementia related diseases. There are many incredible benefits to providing home care during these stages over admitting your loved one to some form of facility right away. During the early stages, the person suffering from Alzheimer’s, or another form of Dementia is aware that something is beginning to go wrong in their brain. It can be very frustrating and confusing, depressing, and even aggravating to your loved one as they cannot control the changes occurring. Giving them the ability to remain in the comfort and security of their home as they adjust and accept what is happening can greatly decrease the stress your loved one must endure during this already difficult time. An experienced and compassionate caregiver is usually better prepared to hold your loved one’s hand and support them through this process. In-home care providers are trained to manage the mood swings, confusion, and possible delusions that accompany the progression of the disease. In-home care can also provide relief to a family struggling to manage all the demands required to provide safety and comfort to a loved one requiring constant care and supervision.
One of the most comforting benefits of home care is the ability to provide the opportunity to continue preserved skills more often than if they were in a care facility with scheduled activity times. Preserved skills are enjoyable skills or capabilities that remain preserved as the symptoms of their disease worsens. Talents such as singing or dancing, creating art, reading, or listening to books or music, and reminiscing on great adventures in their past are common preserved skills that can provide joy and comfort to your loved one during this difficult time. The one on one, personalized care that in-home care provides allows a greater ability to do what they love, boosting morale and fighting depression, and ultimately maintaining their health and quality of life.
As Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia progress, it is not uncommon for your loved one to go through a period where they suffer from a group of symptoms referred to as “Sundowning”. During this phase your loved one can experience increased feelings of confusion, anxiety and fear, and agitation. They may become restless, paranoid, disoriented, and suffer from hallucinations. Research has shown that those suffering from Sundowning in their own home, a familiar and comforting environment, experience much milder levels of negative emotions and behaviors than those in facilities that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable to them. By including an in-home care, managing the period of Sundowning is much less stressful to you and your loved one.
The need for 24-hour care and supervision can put increased amounts of stress on a family trying to provide the best possible care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. On top of physical wellbeing, quality of life and emotional health can impact the rate at which the disease progresses. A comforting environment, like your loved one’s home, can provide feelings of safety and happiness to them, and a happier brain is a healthier brain.
Home care provides the ability to offer professional and experienced care, structure and routine, safety and security, and stress relief for you, your family, and your loved one throughout these challenging times. Home care provides the benefits and abilities to offer your loved one the best quality of life possible, while also providing you with the comfort of knowing that your loved one will have the opportunity to spend their days receiving the most compassionate and experienced care available in the comfort of their own home.
Created by: Bailey