When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it signals the beginning of a series of major life changes. In the early stages, Alzheimer’s patients may still be able to perform a variety of functions of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, and toileting on their own. As the disease progresses, however, they will increasingly rely on caregivers to help them perform even the most basic tasks. As a caregiver, there are several things you can do to ease this transition and preserve your loved one’s dignity and comfort.
For people with Alzheimer’s, as well as for their caregivers, the loss of independence that accompanies the late stages of the disease is extremely challenging. Activities that were second nature – eating, walking, speaking, and even sitting up unassisted – often become difficult. As a caregiver, you may experience feelings of frustration or helplessness at this point. However, it’s important to remember that, although your loved one may no longer be able to communicate verbally, they can still experience pain, fear, and anxiety, as well as comfort, peace, and love. You can contribute to your loved one’s well-being by focusing on their sensory experience, and doing your best to provide pleasant sensations and alleviate discomfort. This can mean preparing favorite foods, providing gentle massage with fragrant lotions, sitting outside together on a sunny day, playing favorite music, or reading aloud. By focusing on their capacity to experience enjoyment, you can help to preserve your loved one’s dignity and sense of ease. When it comes to assisting them with activities like eating and bathing, take your time and use a gentle, soothing tone of voice. If you are patient and not in a rush, you can help your loved one to take part in their own care – for example, holding a spoon and feeding themselves.
Because many people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s lose their ability to speak, it can be difficult to tell if they are experiencing pain or discomfort. Because even slight illnesses and injuries can quickly take a turn for the worse during the late stages of Alzheimer’s, it’s vital to stay vigilant in observing your loved one’s non-verbal cues. Facial expression and body language – such as grimacing, wincing, or repeatedly touching an area of the body – can serve as clues that your loved one is in pain. Additionally, you can check for changes in appearance, such as skin coloration, rashes, bruises, or swelling, as well as changes in breathing and general affect.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care of Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.