Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that afflicts over 5.5 million Americans over the age of 65, and typically worsens with age. If your parent gets dementia or Alzheimer’s, at some point they will need additional care to help them navigate the activities of daily living and monitor their safety and well-being. Below are some of the ways you can help your loved one as they progress with the disease.
- Doctor Consult
If your parent is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s, such as increasing forgetfulness, confusion, agitation or frustration, it may be time to schedule a visit with their doctor or a gerontologist that specializes in older adults. Sometimes the symptoms can simply be the result of an infection like a UTI, which can also temporarily cause confusion and memory loss. However, in other cases dementia may be the culprit and doctors can prescribe medications that can alleviate and or slow some of the symptoms of dementia. Medications might include cholinesterase and memantine. In addition, doctors can also prescribe other medications that treat some of the effects of dementia like sleeplessness, anxiety or depression.
- Improve safety with a fall detection alert system
Falling is the number one cause of serious injury among seniors in the United States. However, those with dementia have an even higher risk of falling. Cognitive decline, medications, wandering and night time walking all contribute to the added risk of falling for those with dementia. One way to help a parent with dementia who is at risk of falling is to get them a medical alert system with automatic fall detection. A fall detector will get your parent help in the event of a fall, even if they can’t press a button to get help themselves, getting them emergency assistance faster in the event of a serious accident.
- Location Tracker
With dementia and Alzheimer’s, individuals often lose their bearing, and the once familiar often becomes unfamiliar. In addition, in more advanced phases of the disease, many will also wander from their homes, despite best efforts to keep them on site. One way to handle the situation is to add GPS trackers to your parent’s shoes, purse or watch. Or you can buy a dedicated mobile GPS device and have them wear it on their wrist, if they don’t make a habit of removing it. Regardless, having some type of GPS device will reduce the risk of your loved one getting lost and falling into harm’s way as a result. There are many resources that can help you explore the right solutions for your situation.
- Memory Care Center
Sometimes, no matter how hard an individual family caregiver may try, the best solution is for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s to move into a memory care facility with 24 hour care. Not only is the care 24X7, but the facility, programming, assistance with activities of daily living and staff are designed and trained to care for patients with dementia, improving the safety, well-being and health of residents. A dedicated memory care facility can alleviate significant strain, stress and anxiety from the hands of family caregivers.
If you see that your parent is displaying the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s you may want to schedule a consult with a gerontologist who can perform a series of tests. They can also provide you with caregiving advice, prescribe medications and make other recommendations to help slow the progression of the disease and limit its side effects. Moreover, a doctor may also make the determination that an individual is no longer fit to drive, removing some of the confrontation with a family caregiver.
Regardless, arming yourself and a loved one with the help of a professional, whether it be a gerontologist, GP or social worker specializing in senior care, will help you navigate some of the challenging times ahead. Using some of the technological tools, like medical alert devices and GPS trackers will also help.