While Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are still in their earliest stages in seniors, you may find your senior loved one can still function and perform daily tasks independently. Seniors at the beginning of their struggle with Alzheimer’s may still effectively socialize, carry out their jobs, and drive. This is the stage where your duties of adult care for your affected senior are the least demanding. But it is no less tragic to know that worse phases of the illness are yet to come, and to watch your aging parent’s behavior and trademark personality slowly change as their mental health deteriorates.
Alzheimer’s is a very frustrating disease because it is currently unpreventable and incapable of being slowed or stopped in affected seniors. The best thing you as their caregiver can do is to educate yourself as much as possible about their dementia, so that you can know what to expect and how to handle eventual troubling symptoms as they arise in later stages of the disease.
“Early stage” Alzheimer’s is characterized by mild obstruction to a senior’s thinking and learning abilities but can still actively participate in conversation and activities, with a few hiccups perhaps. Alzheimer can often go undetected for a while during the early stages, as elders may conscious enough simply dismiss weak symptoms as “brain farts” or having “a senior moment.” The beginning phase of Alzheimer’s disease may last a few years before worsening to more noticeable and tragic effects.
Life After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Once you get confirmation from a doctor that a senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, your approach to caring for them may be more of a partnership than extensive caregiving duties. You may be helping them remember where they were in the story they were telling, or reminding them to take their medication, without having to heavily involve yourself in every aspect of their daily routine.
Being able to go slow at the early stages of disease gives you a grace period where you can work with your aging parent, spouse, or extended family on planning for the long-term care strategy for a senior in later stages of the disease when the effects of the disease worsen. Not every family is in a position to provide the extensive amount of caregiving, monitoring, and medical attention that an advanced Alzheimer’s senior needs. Careers and education can be obstacles keeping an adult child from providing 24/7 round-the-clock care for a senior. Working with your aging parent in the early stages gives you ample preparation time to plan and get family finances in order for arranging the best-fitting senior care coverage.
Ways You Can Be Helpful In Early Alzheimer’s Stages
As we mentioned before, a senior at the beginning of their struggle with Alzheimer’s may only need some light assistance with daily tasks and obligations. Ways you can be a help to a senior with dementia may include:
- Keeping track of medicines and reminding when to take them
- Helping to manage their money or pay bills
- Assisting with organizing events or outings
- Finding misplaced items around the house
- Keeping track of important phone numbers for them
Your Caregiving Attitude For Early Stage Alzheimer’s
Keeping a positive and encouraging attitude for a senior during early stage Alzheimer’s is key to their peace of mind and reducing their stress during this rough time. You will have to muster up a greater degree of patience and slow pacing for activities than you are used to when handling a senior loved one’s affairs. As a caregiver, it is important that you remain supportive and do not make them feel like a burden. Then again, if you do not feel you are capable of providing the extent of care they need, and do view your new duties as a burden, it may be best to consider placing your senior in the professional hands of a memory care facility.
Not everyone is cut out for caregiving, and if you feel you are not capable of doing it with a loving and sincere attitude, it may be better to leave it to skilled nurses who have made a career out of it. Letting guilt make your decision to be a caregiver against your will can lead to an atmosphere of resentment in a home, which is not healthy for anyone in this rough time.
Frustration and stress can be avoided by preparing as soon as possible, and not putting off planning for senior care until it suddenly becomes imperative. Evaluating your options for the best care is not a good decision to rush. It takes time and research to get it right. Ask your doctor any questions you have about how Alzheimer’s disease may affect specific aspects of your family’s unique lifestyle, and make the needed adjustments for a smooth caregiving environment with all the family working together as a team.