As Alzheimer's and other dementia progress, behaviors change, and so does your role as caregiver. While changes in behavior can be challenging, we have resources to help you through each stage of the disease.
Alzheimer's & Dementia
Stages & Behaviors
Alzheimer's disease and other dementias gradually diminish a person's ability to communicate. Communication with a person with Alzheimer's requires patience, understanding and good listening skills. Changes in the ability to communicate are unique to each person with Alzheimer's, therefore, it's important to have the right caregiver who can change with the person's condition.
A person with Alzheimer's or other dementia doesn't have to give up the activities that he or she loves. Many activities can be modified to the person's ability. In addition to enhancing quality of life, activities can reduce behaviors like wandering or agitation.
Food and Eating
Regular, nutritious meals may become a challenge for people with dementia. As a person's cognitive function declines, he or she may become overwhelmed with too many food choices, forget to eat, or have difficulty with eating utensils. Proper nutrition is important to keep the body strong and healthy.
Music and Art
Music and art can enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer's disease. Both allow for self-expression and engagement, even after dementia has progressed. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle stages of the disease. Art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Everyone needs a break. Respite care provides caregivers a temporary rest from caregiving, while the person with Alzheimer's continues to receive care in a safe environment. Using respite services can support and strenghthen your ability to be a caregiver. Respite care can help you as a caregiver by providing a new environment or time to relax. It's a good way for you to take time for yourself. It's normal to be apprehensive about trying something new.
Memory Loss and Confusion
In the later stages of the disease, a person with Alzheimer's may not remember familiar people, places or things. Situations involving memory loss and confusion are extremely difficult for caregivers and families, and require much patience and understanding. In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe.
Such types of behavior are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "senility" or "senile dementia," which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect believe that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. The main underlying cause of memory loss and confusion is the progressive damage to brain cells caused by Alzheimer's disease.