Your Role in Creating Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Plan for Your Loved One in Fargo, ND
See how our agency can assist loved ones at home who have been diagnosed
If you have been caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia, you probably already know how challenging it can be. One of the most important parts of caring for your loved one is creating a dementia care plan that can be continuously adapted to meet their ever-changing needs.
The First Stages of Alzheimer's Disease
Having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease is often hard for family members to take in. It takes time for most people to accept this diagnosis and come to terms with the fact that your loved one's condition will steadily decline. Once everyone has come to terms with what is going to happen to their loved one, the next step is to do a little research to help everyone understand what they should expect in the coming years.
In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, the level of dementia is usually minimal. Your loved one might have trouble with their short-term memory, organizing their lives, and making plans for their future. At this stage of their condition, they are unlikely to need a professional caregiver, but there are a few long-term dementia care plans you need to start putting into action. Among these are:
- Collecting any legal documents (vehicle titles, deeds, wills, and so forth) and putting them all in one safe place, such as a safety deposit box or a fireproof safe.
- Decide which members of the family (try to choose no more than two) will be responsible for making crucial decisions regarding your loved one's care and personal business.
- Be sure you choose those who are willing to take responsibility not only for your loved one's finances but also for developing their initial plan.
- This is a good time to start putting together financial plans regarding the cost of the care your loved one will need in the future.
- This is also a good time to create an emergency contact plan that includes family members and their medical care team.
- As part of your loved one's plan, you should work with your family to determine who will be responsible for each phase of their care and when they will be needed. It is very important that you create a plan now, but remember that you may have to change it as your loved one's condition changes.
Never Let Your Loved One's Condition Stop the Fun
While your loved one may not be able to remember everything during the early stages of dementia, there is one vital thing you need to keep in mind. You should never let their condition preclude them from having fun. This is an excellent time for a little good old-fashioned family bonding. Gather the family, go on trips together, play board games, watch movies, create tasty meals together, and reminisce over the family photo album. Not only are these activities fun for everyone, but they will also stimulate your loved one's brain, which is a vital part of any care plan.
Assumption Is Your Worst Enemy
Despite the fact that your loved one has been diagnosed with and has started to show symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia, you can't assume anything. Your loved one is still capable of working with you to make some decisions and help create their dementia care plan. The one thing you should know is that they are struggling to come to terms with this mental disorder just as much as you are. One of the best things you can do is include them in learning what they are still capable of doing, and then be ready to offer support when and where it is needed.
The Secondary Stage of Alzheimer's Disease
The secondary stage of Alzheimer's and dementia is the one that lasts the longest; it can drag on for years. At this stage, your loved one's plan must include at least one family member who has developed the skills and has the time and patience needed to care for your loved one. It is also during this stage of the disease that you are going to see the largest number of changes in their behavior. Among the many changes that are likely to occur are:
- Vast changes in their moods, ranging from extreme anger to frustration and deep depression. Some will become paranoid as the disease progresses.
- You may also see even the gentlest of souls suddenly demonstrate dangerous and violent behaviors. This might include shouting at you and the rest of your family, physically striking anyone who happens to be near them, or simply wandering away from their home.
- Many begin to have issues with being able to verbally express themselves.
- During this stage, many suffer from degradation in their comprehension skills, despite never having any problems before.
- It is also during this stage that many develop issues with coordination, balance, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and incontinence.
Never Stop Trying!
When working with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's disease and trying to stick to their dementia care plan, it can be easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed. Remember that when you start to become frustrated with your loved one, they are probably feeling stressed and frustrated too. Keep in mind that no matter what stage of the disease they are at, they are just as human as you are, and it's not their "fault", they have moments of "misbehavior."
Their Medical Care Team Must be Kept in the Loop!
As much as your loved one's medical care team is a vital part of their care plan, they cannot be with them around the clock. It falls on you, your family, and your loved one's caregiver to keep a log where you can record any changes in their behavior. This will make it easier for them to make changes to their care plan and adapt it to their changing behavior.
The Tertiary or Final Stage of Alzheimer's Disease
By the time your loved one's condition has reached this third and final stage of Alzheimer's and dementia, their care plan must include around-the-clock care. You can split it between familial caregivers and a professional caregiver to give family members time to rest and take care of their personal needs. It becomes crucial that everyone is on the same page and is working to help keep your loved one comfortable and safe. By the time your loved one has reached this advanced stage of their condition, they might no longer be able to walk or swallow their food. They may begin to experience seizures, weight loss, and several other medical issues.
You Don't Have to Go Through This Alone!
Even if you are still your loved one's primary caregiver and in charge of their dementia care plan, you DO NOT have to go through this by yourself. Taking care of a loved one who is living with final-stage Alzheimer's and dementia can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Before you become overwhelmed, consider adding a professional caregiver to the team. You should also consider finding a support group to help you cope with everything that is going on.
Making Every Minute Count!
From before your loved one is formally diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and as they go through the various stages, there are going to be many changes both of you will have to go through. The most important thing you and your family can do is spend as much time as possible with them, creating memories and remembering the many good times you shared together.
To learn more about the many Alzheimer's and dementia services and develop a dementia care plan offered by Comfort Keepers of Fargo, ND, please contact us at (701) 237-0004and let us schedule a free care consultation to discuss your loved one's needs.