In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, many patients retain the ability to function with some independence. Even as confusion and forgetfulness become more pronounced, they can still communicate verbally and engage in many activities of daily life, such as bathing, eating, and dressing on their own. As the disease progresses, though, most Alzheimer’s patients become completely dependent on their caregivers in all aspects of life. While this can be tremendously challenging for both patient and caregiver, there are things you can do to ease the transition and preserve the dignity and wellbeing of your loved one in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.
Taking on total responsibility for someone’s care is a huge challenge, and one that should not be faced alone. Connecting with support groups and home health organizations can be tremendously helpful, as can learning about other people’s experiences as caregivers. And, while you may be fully committed to providing care for your loved one at home, there may come a point when round-the-clock care from a health professional, or even a move to an assisted living facility, becomes necessary. If your loved one is experiencing repeated ailments, worsening of physical symptoms, or an inability to eat, it may be time to consider hospice or other palliative care options. For this reason, it’s important to discuss end-of-life care and their wishes surrounding the final stages of their life while your loved one is still capable of decision-making and verbal communication.
Even though your loved one may not be able to communicate verbally, it’s essential to provide them with a sense of dignity and well-being. Because someone with late stage Alzheimer’s experiences the world primarily through their senses, you can use sensory input to communicate when words are no longer sufficient. Playing your loved one’s favorite music, providing gentle massage, brushing their hair, cooking their favorite meals, and displaying bright flowers and family photographs can all have a soothing effect, and communicate to the Alzheimer’s patient that they are safe and loved. Similarly, you can watch for non-verbal cues, such as facial expression, movement, and body language, to determine whether your loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort.
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.