What Are the Challenges Faced by Alzheimer’s Caregivers?
Caring for aging parents is a labor of love, but sometimes it takes specialized skills, knowledge, and patience to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. In most cases, family members who act as caregivers fall short in many of these areas, especially in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s. The good news is that memory care in Chicago can provide patients with the care and assistance they require to thrive.
This gives caregivers peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safe and well cared for in a community equipped with safety features and specially trained staff. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that can pose many challenges for caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Why Seniors Need Specialized Care
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s is a progressive and debilitating form of dementia that starts with mild memory loss. Over time, it will cause a person to lose their ability to respond and hold conversations. The disease affects the areas of the brain that regulates language, thought, and memory. As the disease advances, people become incapable of performing simple daily activities.
How Common Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Statistics show that in 2020, more than 5.8 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although Alzheimer's disease is more common in older people, it can also occur in younger people. Trends reveal that the number of people living with Alzheimer’s doubles every five years, and the numbers are expected to triple to 14 million by 2060.
What Are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
The National Institute on Aging explains that the symptoms of the disease vary from person to person. But one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms are mild, but as the disease progresses, they become more severe. The disease progresses in several stages and is categorized as mild, moderate, and severe.
Looking after dementia patients can be overwhelming, especially for untrained people. The tasks can be extensive and exhausting as the disease worsens. The following are some of the basic duties of caregivers.
Basic needs – Seniors will require assistance in moving, walking, eating, bathing, and grooming. Caregivers must be strong enough to safely and efficiently lift and move seniors.
Cooking and housekeeping – People with Alzheimer’s can’t fend for themselves. They can’t clean or cook. Leaving them to cook and clean on their own would be unsafe. Part of the caregivers' job is housekeeping chores and preparing and cooking meals.
Nutritional and medical care – Maintenance medications are part of aging. More so for the elderly with medical conditions like Alzheimer’s. Taking medications on time, following the correct dosage, and safely driving themselves to the doctor will become increasingly difficult as their memory declines. Caregivers must also ensure that the elderly receive adequate nutrition to maintain their health.
Social engagement – Did you know seniors are prone to loneliness and social isolation? Part of your job as a caregiver is to provide companionship to seniors. The importance of meeting their emotional needs cannot be overstated.
Finances – With the steady decline of brain function, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for seniors to handle their finances. Caregivers may be responsible for paying bills, managing finances, and more.
What Are the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Caregivers?
Many challenges are associated with caring for patients with Alzheimer's or dementia. It's a whole new level of caregiving. Unfortunately, few people are qualified to provide this level of specialized care. Some of the responsibilities of Alzheimer’s caregivers are the following:
Education – To become a safe caregiver, you must understand the disease. A better understanding of the condition will allow you to provide better care. Many family members seek memory care facilities because they know that dealing with dementia can be demanding. Learning as much about the condition as possible will help you plan and be prepared for anything. Examples of useful information are identifying the stage of the symptoms and knowing safety protocols.
Emotional support is paramount. Most caregivers focus all their attention on the physical needs of the elderly, and their emotional needs take a back seat. Studies show that emotional support is just as vital as physical.
Flexibility – For caregivers to make good judgment calls, they must possess special skills. Furthermore, caregivers must be alert to any changes in symptoms and behavior and be flexible to adapt to unexpected events. They must be quick to evaluate the environment checking for safety hazards and possible risks.
Self-Care - A caregiver's job can be extremely taxing, so you’re expected to look after yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Dealing with certain behaviors can deplete you physically and emotionally, which is why educating yourself is a form of protection because it will teach you how to handle different situations. You must understand that over time the symptoms of the disease will continue to worsen.
Looking for a Memory Care in Chicago?
One of the toughest jobs in the world is caring for an elderly with Alzheimer’s. The disease itself can be demanding. If you’re not fit to care for your loved ones, we highly recommend you consider memory care.
At Senior Living Experts, we have a team of experienced and reliable advisors who will work closely with you and your family so we can find the perfect fit. We have worked with over 230 communities in the area; we have options to help you find what you need. Contact us to learn more.
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