Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s presents many challenges. As the disease progresses from the early stages to middle stages, the patient becomes increasingly forgetful, and needs more help performing everyday tasks. This transition is often extremely stressful for both the patient – who may have difficulty adjusting to their dependence on others – and on the caregiver, who will have to deal with their loved one’s mood changes, memory difficulties, and frustration over their loss of control. As a caregiver, it’s essential to be as patient as possible, as well as to know your own limits and the ways in which you can make life easier and reduce your own stress.
During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, safety concerns become more pressing. While people in the early stages of the disease may be able to drive, run errands, and live on their own, middle-stage Alzheimer’s patients’ abilities are often compromised to the point where they can no longer perform these activities safely. Just because they shouldn’t continue to do these things, however, doesn’t mean that they won’t want to: It can be incredibly difficult to convey to an Alzheimer’s sufferer that they need to give up activities that they have been doing for many decades. Knowing how to approach the topic with sensitivity and understanding is very important when it’s time to have a difficult conversation about safety.
Your loved one may become angry at the suggestion that it’s time for them to stop driving (or going out alone, or living by themselves). By far, the most important thing you can do as a caregiver is to be as patient as possible, and try to empathize with the confusion and frustration they are experiencing. This will help you to communicate gently, but firmly. In the event that they need to stop driving, involving their doctor is a good way to take some of the pressure off of you. Rather than focusing on their impairment, keep the conversation upbeat and use your voice and body language to show that you care. Finally, remember that, although conversations about safety are stressful, they are a vital part of your role as a caregiver, and will make your life easier in the long run!
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.