A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s

Family caregivers are often the unsung heroes. They sacrifice a great deal — sometimes even their own health — to care for a loved one.

During National Alzheimer’s Disease & Family Caregivers Awareness Month, the theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock.” It recognizes the challenges family caregivers face and how to manage them.

McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care is here to help families and seniors to live their lives to the fullest. That means taking care of the caregiver, too.

Several studies show caregiving can take a mental and physical toll that includes depression and anxiety. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be particularly challenging.

Steps to Take

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, which is characterized by loss of memory and other cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that worsens over time. While Alzheimer’s disease can’t be stopped or reversed, with early detection, some medications can slow down its progression, provide some symptom relief and help maintain independence longer.

During early stages of the disease, when memory loss is mild, it’s important for the person with Alzheimer’s and the family to make legal and financial plans. This includes deciding who will make medical and financial decisions on the person’s behalf in the later stages of the disease.

Alzheimer’s typically has three stages. The middle stage may last the longest, but every person’s progression is different.

In the early stages, memory loss is mild and a person may function independently and be part of social activities. At the same time, the person may be having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. Friends and family begin to notice difficulties, while a doctor may detect problems in memory or concentration.

During the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, individuals may be confusing words, getting frustrated or angry, having difficulty performing routine tasks, or acting in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe. At the same time, they often still remember significant life details. During this middle stage, 24-hour supervision may become necessary to keep the person safe.

In the late stage of Alzheimer’s, the person loses the ability to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. As memory and cognitive skills continue to worsen, significant personality changes may occur. Care requirements become even more intensive and individuals need round-the-clock help with daily activities and personal care.

Determining the Right Time for Additional Help

With the complex needs people with Alzheimer’s have, you may not be able to continue providing the level of care they need at home once they reach the disease’s middle or late stages. How do you know when it’s time to seek help from a professional memory care community?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, it’s likely time to seek additional help:

  • Is the person becoming unsafe in his/her current home?
  • Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?
  • Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical abilities?
  • Am I becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?
  • Am I neglecting work responsibilities, my family and myself?
  • Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit the person with dementia?

Choosing a Memory Care Community

When it’s time to move to a memory care community, take the important steps to find the right fit. Below are a few considerations to get started:

  • Visit several facilities at different times of the day
  • Talk with staff, residents and families
  • Ask about room availability and costs
  • Ask about specialized training in dementia care
  • Discover what programs and activities are available
  • Determine if a physician and registered nurses are available 24 hours a day
  • Ensure indoor and outdoor areas are secure and safe
  • Check to see if the food is appetizing and nutritious
  • Verify continuing care is available as needs change

How Specialized Memory Care Can Help

In 2017, the McKnight Place family expanded to include a memory care community. Its dedicated staff and memory care specialists serve senior adults of all cognitive abilities.

McKnight Place Memory Care’s Forget-Me-Not care program focuses on the interests and abilities of each resident to promote an active, fulfilling lifestyle through social interaction, special events and trips, and engaging, therapeutic activities.

When a loved one is part of the McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care community, families can rest easy and focus on enjoying time together. The expert team ensures your loved one receives the best personal and medical care in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.

As the caregiver, you enjoy peace of mind and the comfort of knowing your loved one is receiving exceptional, compassionate attention at McKnight Place Memory Care.

Take Care of the Yourself, Too

Whether you’re just beginning the journey of caregiver for a loved one, or have been doing it for several years, it’s important to take care of yourself. You can’t do it all alone.

Start with these 10 tips for family caregivers from the Caregiver Action Network:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers
  2. Take care of your own health so you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors
  5. Caregiving is hard so take respite breaks often
  6. Watch for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one
  8. Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease & Family Caregivers Awareness Month. If you’re a caregiver, thanks for your hard work and dedication. Whether they can express it or not, the ones you love appreciate it very much. If you aren’t a caregiver, be sure to thank your family members and friends who are.

Come See For Yourself

For more information about McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care or to schedule a personal tour, please call 314-993-3333.

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