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How to Navigate the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a diagnosis that not only your loved one, but the whole family as well. Life is going to change, and mom or dad will require more help and supervision on a day to day basis. The degree of this help will vary depending on what stage your loved one is at in the disease. In most cases, Alzheimer’s symptoms manifest slowly through three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. However, everyone who has this memory disorder experiences symptoms differently. If you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s, our professional memory care team at Lester Senior Living has compiled different ways to navigate each stage of this disease, so you can better help your loved one.  

Caring for a loved one with mild Alzheimer’s disease

People with mild Alzheimer’s often live independent lives, caring for themselves, driving, paying bills and meeting up with friends. However, they may experience memory lapses, lose things, forget what they just heard, or be unable to recall the right word for a common object. They may have trouble performing tasks or find it increasingly difficult to plan or organize. You may begin to notice these changes as well. A person diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s is often likely to understand what that means and may react with fear, denial, anxiety, depression, and anger. The people close to them often experience these emotions too.

While your loved one is in this early stage, it’s a good time to discuss future options for legal, financial, and long-term care arrangements. It’s also smart for you both to take advantage of the many support services and resources that are available to you. Learn as much as you can about Alzheimer’s together. One of the best resources out there for seniors and their caregivers is the official Alzheimer’s Association website. Aside from familiarizing yourselves more with Alzheimer’s and discussing legal matters, here are some other ways you can help care for them: 

  • Determining whether or not your loved one needs help, and how much to give, is a big challenge during early-stage Alzheimer’s. 
  • Don’t assume, always ask if they need a hand. 
  • Enable outdoor activities they can safely enjoy with some supervision if necessary, like gardening.
  • Encourage exercise and brain teasers to keep body and mind in shape. 
  • Ensure they’re eating a balanced diet
  • Create a daily routine to follow.
  • Discuss a plan for avoiding potentially stressful or frustrating situations. 
  • Talk about ways they can comfortably ask for help.

Caring for a loved one with moderate Alzheimer’s disease

In middle-stage Alzheimer’s, there will be good days and bad days, but caregiver responsibilities will increase. The individual may find it more and more difficult to perform routine tasks like dressing, expressing themselves verbally, or following a conversation. Routines become more important at this stage, and will have to be adapted according to how dementia advances. 

People with moderate Alzheimer’s may exhibit changes in behavior or personality. Angry outbursts, confusion, irritability, sleep disturbance, or wandering are all distressing signs of moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The person may not always recognize you, and you too may wonder who this stranger is. Remember that the disease, not the individual, is causing these changes. Caring for your loved one is going to be much more involved by this point and will include your help with the following: 

  • Assistance with eating, dressing, showering and going to the bathroom
  • Driving your loved one to and from places
  • Trying different communication tactics 
  • Finding a new place to live 

Finding a new place to live is imperative because people with moderate Alzheimer’s should not live alone. There are too many safety risks, such as wandering, misusing appliances, and falling, to name a few. Whether they move in with you or settle into a long-term memory care facility like the Memory Care Suite at the Lester Senior Living, it’s important to ensure that someone is always watching out for your loved one at this stage.

Caring for a loved one with severe Alzheimer’s disease

Seniors with severe Alzheimer’s need round-the-clock personal care. They usually have trouble eating and eventually become bedridden or chair-bound. They may experience incontinence and be prone to infection. Your focus is now on preserving their dignity and quality of life. You may also have to make difficult personal and medical decisions on their behalf. Never be afraid to tap into your network for emotional and professional support.

Even if your loved one can’t communicate, you can still let them know you care. Here are different ways to connect with your loved one in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease: 

  • Read to them
  • Play their favorite music
  • Look through old photos
  • Hold their hand, or just sit outside together 
  • Help them stay nourished and hydrated
  • If communication is impaired, be aware of any physical signs of distress
  • Keep an eye on their skin for rashes or issues caused by immobility
  • If bedridden, change their position every couple of hours to avoid bedsores or discomfort
  • Help them with their personal hygiene, as they are now more prone to infection

Professional and compassionate memory care in NJ

Be mindful of your own stress level throughout the journey of caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. It’s important to keep yourself healthy and don’t be afraid to ask for help if it becomes too overwhelming to handle by yourself. When memory loss starts affecting everyone’s daily life, it may be time to consider the holistic approach to memory care at the specialized Memory Care Suite in Lester Senior Living. Our memory care residents receive intensive and individualized support from our specially trained caregivers who are onsite at all times. Our program also ensures your loved one’s quality of life is enhanced through cognitive activities, socialization with other residents and meaningful connections with each of our caregivers.

For more information about professional and compassionate memory care in New Jersey, please give us a call today or visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org