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Comfort Keepers Evansville Podcast Episode 7: The Evolutionary Path of Dementia and Alzheimer's Diseases

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Evansville, Indiana.

The Evolutionary Path of Dementia and Alzheimer's Diseases

Dementia and Alzheimer's are challenging diseases that evolve uniquely within each patient. The journey from early signs to end-of-life care is a multifaceted process that involves numerous stages and experiences. This blog post will help you understand these diseases better by shedding light on the progression and fluctuating nature of these conditions.

The early signs of Dementia and Alzheimer's can be subtle and often misunderstood. Memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty in completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, and withdrawal from social activities are just some of the early signs. When these signs become apparent, it's essential to seek professional help. Early detection allows for better planning and preparation for the inevitable progression of these diseases.

As the diseases progress, patients may need to transition to full-time care units. This transition is a heartbreaking experience for both the patient and their family. It requires a significant shift in lifestyle and necessitates increased professional help. At this stage, the role of home care agencies like Comfort Keepers becomes invaluable. These agencies provide care, companionship, and support for patients and their families, easing the burden and providing a comforting presence during challenging times.

Non-skilled agencies like Comfort Keepers can't replace the skills of a registered nurse, but they do offer essential services. They ensure the safety of the patient, assist with personal care like bathing, grooming, mouth care, and toileting. They also remind patients to take their medication regularly. They operate within defined parameters, providing care within the comfort of the patient's home. When the disease progresses to a point where more medical attention is needed, they partner with skilled medical professionals to provide comprehensive care.

The nature of Dementia and Alzheimer's is such that it is not always a linear progression. There are good days and bad days. On a good day, a patient may be in a good mood, remember a lot, and have a good appetite. On a bad day, they may forget familiar faces, become combative, and deviate from their normal personality. The diseases eventually progress to the point where patients lose their ability to talk, eat, and perform basic functions. Unfortunately, there are situations where patients can no longer be cared for at home. They may need to be placed in a unit that provides round-the-clock care specifically for Alzheimer's. In these situations, agencies like Comfort Keepers often continue to provide companionship and support, having become an integral part of the patient's life.

The journey through Dementia and Alzheimer's is a difficult one, filled with many challenges. It's crucial to raise awareness, educate, and provide invaluable insights to help families navigate these times. The importance of early detection, seeking professional help, and ensuring comprehensive at-home care cannot be overstated. Above all, providing comfort, companionship, and support to patients and their families is the most valuable service one can offer.

Podcast Episode 7 (The Evolutionary Path of Dementia and Alzheimer's Diseases) Transcript

Speaker 1 (Announcement): Welcome to the Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast, where we elevate the human spirit. Here's your host, Kristi Gurule.

Jeremy (Co-host): Hello everyone and welcome to Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast. I'm your cohost, Jeremy Wolf. If I could speak today, we'd be in good shape. It is Monday, so, Kristi, how are you doing?

Kristi (Host): It's a Monday, great.

Jeremy (Co-host): I'm excited. I'm excited. So, we've been talking a little bit about various stages of dementia and Alzheimer's and signs to look for and the kind of progression and how that works and what you see in your industry when you're in a home and somebody is suffering from early onset dementia or Alzheimer's and you guys are helping out. What are some of the signs that you guys look for, that it may be time for you guys to actually bring in some outside help or take them to a medical professional?

Kristi (Host): Right, that's really, really loaded. We could be here for hours discussing all the different scenarios that I've seen play out, but ultimately what is my team? What we have to remember is that we're a non-skilled agency. Right, so we have many skills, but we can't replace the skills that are brought out by an RN. We can't replace a nurse.

Okay, so the very you know, later, later stages of Alzheimer's are just, they're terrible and debilitating, and so if it gets to the point where a client cannot take medication regularly, they have to take medication because, remember, we can't give medication, we can only remind that. If they're not able to take their medication, that's something. So, take me out of the factor for that. If they're requiring any type of IV fluids because they're not drinking or eating, that's again another thing I wouldn't be able to administer. Again, we're there to ensure someone's safety, but to the point where we know that these are the parameters that we can operate under.

And if someone gets to that stage, it wouldn't be an overnight thing. Family would obviously know too. But this is really where we can have a great partnership with a skilled agency. Okay, so we can still be in there to help do personal care. We can still help bathe, groom, hair, their mouth care, we can help with toileting, all of those things we can help with, and then a skilled agency can come in and just do the medical part of it, giving the medication or if there's anything else again that I cannot do under state regulations, and we've done that many times. There are some really great partnerships that we've created to be able to provide the whole service still in the comfort of someone's home.

Jeremy (Co-host): Interesting, interesting. So, I was going to say something and I lost my train of thought. I'm curious have you seen, in working with families that are in many cases suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, this, and again I'm speaking, this is more, maybe a medical question, but I'm curious to know your feedback on it. Is this a completely linear type of disease where it just continues to get worse? Or is it nonlinear, whereas somebody, maybe one day they're not doing really well, and then the next day it seems that I'd imagine that would be the case right, and then the next day it seems like they're fine and then it can get worse. It's just, it's not.

Kristi (Host): it's not as cut and dry as just being a gradual progression, right, right So, and again, everybody is different, but especially early on, you will see like it was a great day. I'll hear this a lot from families. It was a great day for mom today. It was a great day. She was in a good mood, she remembered a lot, and she had a good appetite. So that's a good day. On a bad day, mom may forget the people that are in the room with her, she may be a lot more combative, not her normal personality. That's a bad day for mom. So, you do see that a lot. When you get, like I said, into the very, very last stages of dementia or Alzheimer's, you've lost your ability to talk, your ability to eat, like that's. That is the most debilitating stage. But they're in, they're in the beginning and middle. You will see good days, and bad days, just like us, we all have a good day and a bad day, a clearer day than others, and a more energetic day than others. So it is, you do see that.

Jeremy (Co-host): Have you ever had a situation I'm sure you have in the time you've been doing this where you So, were with a family and somebody was progressing through this and it got to the point where you just couldn't do anything for them anymore in their own home and there was just the only option left was to bring them to either assisted living or kind of end of the road care. I'm sure that unfortunately happens from time to time.

Kristi (Host): Yes, yes, we have been there. We've been there in both scenarios where a family member is now being placed in a unit that is specifically for Alzheimer's 24-hour, around-the-clock care, and we've also been there at the very like you said, the very later, later stages. And again, we will be there providing as much comfort as we can in the ways that we can, and we've been requested just to be there as companionship toward the end because we're a familiar face. We've become a family member essentially to that family that we are serving and they want us to be there for their mom, their dad realizing that we're not doing a whole lot, that really, what we are doing is now helping more of the family than their loved one.

Jeremy (Co-host): Yeah, so important. I mean, this is such a it's such a traumatic topic. It's certainly fascinating and it's something that so many people have to deal with and it's good to raise awareness and help kind of educate and share and just give a little plant, little seeds with people, just so something they hear through these conversations can just get them to kind of look out for certain things or just notice something that they otherwise may not have noticed. That can cause them to at least start asking questions and start opening the door to conversations like that, or even just taking care of yourself better, you know throughout your life which is probably the most important thing.

Jeremy (Co-host): Absolutely.

Kristi (Host): All of those things. If anybody takes any tidbit out of any of these podcasts, it really is. Really is just that, the eye-opening and, again, conversation starters.

Jeremy (Co-host): All right, sounds good. Kristi, I always a pleasure. I say this too often, but it truly is Thank you. Yeah, we'll catch you next time. Everyone, thanks for tuning in. We'll see you soon.

Speaker 1 (Announcement): Thank you for listening to the Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast. For more information, visit comfortkeepers.com or call (812) 370-4956