Caring for an aging family member has its share of challenges, but that increases when the senior has a health condition like dementia. Their cognitive ability and behavior can be unpredictable, causing stress in the family.
It is important for family members to be familiar with the progressive stages of dementia. One type of dementia that has very pronounced stages of severity is Alzheimer’s. People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s often live another four to eight years after diagnosis, although there have been cases of some living another 20 years, depending on other factors.
If you are looking at home care services for your senior family member, you need to be familiar with the different stages of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s, and the specific kind of care they need in every stage.
Regular Home Care Vs Dementia Home Care
Most caregivers are trained to give regular home care. This usually includes personal care, companionship, light housekeeping services, medication management, social outings, and grocery shopping, among others.
Regular in-home care still gives the senior some level of independence although the caregiver is there to provide assistance with some tasks. In the early stages of dementia, the senior may still be able to do many things he has been used to doing. However, as the dementia progresses, the level of care needs to be increased.
Let’s go through the major stages of dementia and see how the nature of care should change from one phase to the next. While some articles show as many as five stages, we will keep it simple and deal with three major stages: the early stage (mild), the middle stage (moderate), and the late stage (severe).
Early Stages (Mild)
In this stage, the seniors with dementia can still function fairly normally. They have memory issues though like forgetting common words, misplacing objects, and remembering appointments. The caregiver can still do mostly regular home care at this point, but should already be discussing long-term care plans with you or with the senior, before the disease starts affecting their memory and their ability to make sound decisions.
Middle Stage (Moderate)
In this stage, the senior with dementia starts having difficulty recognizing familiar faces. They may also struggle with remembering familiar places. Some patients with Alzheimer’s also exhibit other behavioral stages like erratic mood swings, aggression, and loss of inhibitions. Their physical coordination and balance starts being impaired so they may need help dressing up and feeding themselves. A structured schedule, followed day to day, could help minimize their feelings of stress and frustration.
Late Stage (Severe)
At this stage, the senior with dementia will usually need 24/7 home care. They can be extremely confused, mixing past with present events. Their ability to communicate may be severely affected. Many patients, at this stage, may not be able to communicate anymore. Mood will be unpredictable, with hallucinations and delusions. Dementia caregivers know how to deal with these situations because they have specialized training in this condition.
At this point, family members may need to consider other options. One is to send the family member to an assisted living facility specifically for Alzheimers. There is another option. According to Husky Senior Care, an in-home care facility, you can arrange for 24/7 live-in care. Having a trained caregiver with you 24/7 spares you from having to stay up late nights taking care of your seniors and frees you of needless stress.
Caring for a loved one with dementia has its share of challenges, but with the help of in-home care services, many of these can be offloaded from you so your family can spend the remaining years of your loved one’s life with little stress and have memories everyone will treasure.