Caring for a parent with Alzheimers Dementia
Caring for an aged and sick parent has many joys and satisfactions. However as one’s beloved family member’s disease progresses, life becomes more difficult, both for the sufferer as well as for his or her caregiver. This is very much the case with dementias such as Alzheimers. Meaningful Minds Psychologist Ethelwyn, discusses this topic further.
Understanding the disease -
THE SEVEN STAGES OF ALZHEIMERS
Seven major clinical stages have been identified in the progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia:
The person is fully independent and may not be aware that they have Alzheimers.
There is continued independence with the beginning of some memory troubles which, however, are not evident to others.
The individual’s work quality may decline and they may have difficulty learning new skills. They are susceptible to developing anxiety or denial as they confront difficulty remembering the right words and names; getting lost on familiar routes; being unable to remember what they have just read; misplacing or losing valuable objects; and a decreasing capacity to concentrate.
The person struggles further with a decreasing awareness of current or recent events; loses memory of aspects of his or her personal history; experiences difficulty with handling their finances and bills and is unable to count backwards from 100 in 7s.
The afflicted will remember only his or her own names and those of close family members. He or she will be confused around time and place; forget their address; major events and weather conditions; and be unable to count backwards. The individual with Alzheimer’s requires a great deal of support from their caregiver during this stage as the confusion experienced by the sufferer may lead to feelings of anger and suspicion.
From Stage Five the burden on the caregiver becomes more marked as the family member suffering from this form of dementia requires assistance with self-care; needs a nappy as he or she will have lost control over his or her bladder and bowels. Memory over current news and life events will have worsened even more. He or she will be unable to count backwards and may manifest with personality changes. The symptoms are quite terrifying as the person fears being alone; may experience suspicion; paranoia; frustration; shame; fidgeting; and stuttering. Particularly worrying for the caregiver is that they may sleep more during the day and wander around at night.
This is the final stage. The individual’s ability to respond to the environment is lost; he or she requires assistance with everything; and is likely to be immobile. Sufferers often die from pneumonia.