Home Health: Finding Hope for You and Your Loved One

Different Signs Your Parent Has Alzheimer's: What a Caregiver Can Expect

It can be difficult in the beginning to determine whether someone has Alzheimer's. Someone may write their memory loss off to just being old and forgetting a few things. If your grandparent is showing even a small amount of mental decline, the problem could be Alzheimer's, or it could simply be due to becoming older. Below is some more information about this so you can be the best caregiver that you can.

Signs and Symptoms

In the beginning, your grandparent may not show any symptoms of Alzheimer's. The only way to know for sure is to have a PET scan done by a neurologist. The signs may be subtle, such as losing things on a frequent basis, or your grandparent may have small personality changes.

If the mental decline is due to Alzheimer's, then over time, the symptoms will become more noticeable to you. For example, you may notice it is more difficult for your grandparent to have a conversation as they repeatedly forget the right word. They may have problems remembering the names of people they just met and become disorganized.

As the disease progresses, your grandparent will have problems doing simple arithmetic, such as balancing their checkbook. They may forget some details about their past life and have short-term memory problems, such as forgetting what they had for dinner the night before. Your grandparent may not be able to manage their finances properly and may forget to pay their bills.  

After a few years or months, your grandparent will show significant memory problems and may not even be able to dress themselves on their own. Over time, they will become very confused and need someone with them 24/7. They will not be the same person. For example, while they may have been calm before, they may become argumentative.

The next stage is a very severe decline where your grandparent will find it almost difficult to say anything and will have no awareness of where they are.

What You Can Do

As your grandparent's caregiver, the best thing you can do is to learn about this disease. The more you know, the better you can care for your grandparent. You also need to know how to deal with certain situations, such as when they become scared or angry. You may need to talk more slowly to them and ensure their surroundings are calm and peaceful. Educate family members that will visit your grandmother also.

Caring for someone that has Alzheimer's can become overwhelming and can even cause the caregiver to become depressed. For this reason, it could be a good idea to hire aides from a home healthcare facility to come to your grandparent's home to relieve you of duties. They could even come daily or a few times per week. If you choose this, make sure the caregiver has experience working with all stages of Alzheimer's.

In the end, your grandparent will likely require medical care 24/7. If so, you may have to put them in a nursing home or some type of facility. The home caregiver can help you choose the one that would be best.