If your parent has recently been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's, it's time to prepare yourself to work with them as the symptoms start to affect their life. If you are caring for them in the home, it's also time to look for senior in home care professionals who can support you. Your parent's needs will change and you will be grateful for the help from others. Here are the common changes to expect in your parent and the additional support they will need.
This is the most common symptom and it can show up as difficulty in many areas such as:
- Making and keeping appointments
- Planning activities for their day
- Keeping track of their money
- Remembering people, places and events
- Managing their medications
Offer to help in those areas where your parent struggles. This will be frustrating for them, but explain that you wish to prevent them from having problems later, such as being overdrawn at the bank because their checking register is not current. Also let them know about your concern for their safety, such as when they forget that they have taken their morning medication and re-take it. Let them know that you don't want to take away their independence, but you're concerned about their safety.
Impaired Problem Solving Skills
Math and other problem solving tasks may become a struggle. Your parent may remember to write the cable TV bill payment in their checking register, but make a mistake in subtraction. Ask if you can double-check their work after they are done. Encourage them to work on the problem themselves, but to ask for help when they become frustrated.
Unable to Remember Instructions
Something that your parent has done a thousand times, such as operate the microwave, may suddenly perplex them. Or they may be unclear on the rules of their favorite card game. If your parent can follow written instructions, ask them if they would like you to make a short instruction card for those areas they find confusing. This may be enough to jog their memory and allow them to retain some independence.
Losing Track of Time
Your parent may walk to the park and sit on a bench, only to forget how they got there or how long they've been sitting. A watch with an easy-to-read face may help as long as your parent can still tell time. A senior-friendly cell phone may be a comfort to them if they need to reach you. You can also make an agreement with your parent that when they go out, you will check in on them periodically to make sure they are OK. At some point, you or a home care aid may want to go with them on errands or walks to the park to help them keep track of their time.
It's common for someone with early Alzheimer's to forget where they are in the middle of a conversation. They may struggle to find the right word or just stop talking mid-sentence and not know how to finish it. Be patient and don't finish their sentences for them. Communication problems are frustrating for your parent, but your patience with them will have a calming effect.
Initially, your parent will be able to participate in their daily activities. You and the home care aids will need to watch for signs that typical activities are becoming difficult for your parent. Slowly step in and offer assistance but allow your parent to do as much as they can for themselves. It's important that they continue to feel a level of independence while being cared for at home.
For more information, contact Above And Beyond or a similar company.