Has your parent recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease? Are you aware that, according to the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5.8 million older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States? Also did you know that the number is expected to grow as Baby Boomers continue to age? Sadly, did you know that Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States? Or that two-thirds of affected seniors are women?
While Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is celebrated in November you can take the opportunity to learn how to support your parent recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This celebration will provide many educational opportunities and support resources offered across the country for impacted seniors, family members, friends and other unpaid volunteers who care for them. We would like to share with you a few ways to support your parent as he or she begins to live with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
1. Learn all you can about Alzheimer’s Disease. Learning more about Alzheimer’s, the likely progression of symptoms, available medical treatments and other important factors will help support your impacted parent, family members and others better cope with the disease. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Symptoms include memory loss, diminished problem-solving abilities, poor judgment and erratic behavior. Unfortunately, symptoms worsen over time until affected seniors can no longer care for themselves. In many cases, they succumb to the effects of eroded brain activity controlling basic bodily functions, such as swallowing and breathing.
2. You need to know the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease has three distinct stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. Early stage Alzheimer’s Disease is when most seniors are usually diagnosed and yet, may still be able to function somewhat normally. Basically, this is the stage when your parent should be making important decisions about long-term care, estate planning and important legal matters with an experienced Florida elder law attorney, if he or she has not done so previously. Documents, such as a durable power of attorney, advance directive and health care privacy release, are critical during this stage because it allows your parent the ability to express his or her desires prior to losing the ability to make competent decisions.
Often the longest stage of the disease is during the middle stage of Alzheimer’s Disease. Your parent may begin jumbling his or her words, have trouble expressing thoughts and emotions, struggle with simple tasks like getting dressed, and exhibit unpredictable behavior. This is followed by the final or last stage of Alzheimer’s, when the disease progresses to require around-the-clock care.
3. Think about these communication methods when caring for your parent. The care and support of your parent with Alzheimer’s Disease may be both rewarding and stressful. We would like you to consider these communication tips when providing care:
- Be patient and compassionate when interacting with your parent.
- When welcoming people your parent should know, but does not remember, be sure to call the people by name and their relationship when welcoming them.
- Speak slowly and use simple, clear sentences.
- Find different ways of saying the same thing.
- Try to not get frustrated.
- Never say things like: “Did you forget?” or “I just told you.”
- Never talk in front of your parent as if he or she was not present.
- Do not use sarcasm or irony even if meant humorously.
- Do not use patronizing language or “baby talk”.
We know this article may raise more questions than answers. No matter where you are in life’s journey, we can help. Whether you need to update your estate plan, are preparing for future long-term care needs, or have a loved one entering or already in a nursing home, we are ready to assist you. We have 3 convenient locations and are ready to serve the communities around Highlands and Polk County, Florida. Take your first step by contacting us today.