Dementias are one of those medical conditions that impact individuals as well as the people around them, including their caregivers.
Though every situation is a little different, people with certain dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may follow a standard route of progression, from diagnosis to death. When they reach certain stages and how long they stay in each stage varies by person.
The team at Accredited Home Care includes many employees who have experience working with Alzheimer’s clients because this condition is becoming more and more common.
Our company is always looking for people interested in working closely with clients with dementia. Providing home health care on a regular basis can be an opportunity to see the different stages in action, including how clients act and respond, and how the people around them act and respond.
In some ways, dementia clients need the same level of health care as any other client with any other condition. But in other ways, Alzheimer’s disease clients, especially those with more advanced symptoms, may require different skills.
A home health care provider may not be assigned to a client until their symptoms are especially noticeable. Up until this point, they or their family members may have been able to provide adequate care for them in a safe environment when they didn’t have as many symptoms.
But at a certain point, the condition of their brains and body was such that home health care provided by professionals may have been strongly recommended.
This means the client is already likely long past some of the basic symptoms such as “occasional confusion” or “occasional problems speaking or writing.”
Clients needing home health care may be at a more moderate stage, but not yet at the point where they need to relocate to an assisted living facility.
However, at any point, this status could change, and a home health care provider may ultimately provide observations and recommendations to families that they should consider moving their loved one to a facility that can provide a higher level of care.
The National Institute on Aging said that some of the more moderate signs of Alzheimer’s disease include greater memory loss, problems learning new things and organizing thoughts, and problems performing tasks with multiple steps.
People are also prone to impulsive, unusual behaviors like getting angry faster, swearing, or taking off clothes for no reason.
It’s at the moderate stage where wandering may take place along with high levels of agitation. It’s when muscles start working independently so there are more muscle twitches.
Eventually, these moderate symptoms could move into the area of “serious symptoms” where some or all of these moderate behaviors me more pronounced and severe.
The NIA said that advanced signs of Alzheimer’s disease can include:
- Difficulty speaking
- Increased risk of skin infections
- Increased need for sleep – they may no longer have the energy or desire to get up and move around.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization that helps with awareness and fund-raising. It is a useful resource for anyone who interacts with Alzheimer’s patients, from family members to caregivers. It suggests that health providers may often need to change how they interact with advanced Alzheimer’s patients, especially in comparison with other home health clients.
This is due to how a client’s brain is working – they may understand you but will no longer be able to respond properly by speaking or writing clearly.
Advanced patients especially are no longer able to form words or complete thoughts. So there might be simple grunts or groans.
Even at the moderate stage, they may forget words or the meaning of words. This can lead to disruptions in the train of thought while they think of the right word or remind themselves what they’re talking about or trying to ask for.
Sentences may become choppy or incomplete as their thoughts change. They may have to rely more on gestures or short commands since they are unable to express longer thoughts.
As expected, these kinds of changes in how verbal someone is can be frustrating, especially if they considered themselves well-spoken in the past. They could get frustrated trying to get the right words out, especially if the person they’re talking to is having difficulty understanding them.
It may require charade-like games for a simple thought which can eventually be tiring and can explain why some people at this stage start to communicate less.
Providers, family members, and loved ones should be aware of how difficult this situation can be for the person with Alzheimer’s disease. They should make the effort to make sure they give them their full attention and be patient as they get the right words out. They also shouldn’t push with too many questions or confusing requests at once.
If someone is putting all their mental effort into answering questions, they could easily feel overwhelmed if there are multiple questions at once.
The Alzheimer’s Association is always looking for opportunities to educate, raise money, and help patients at a local or global level. For instance, June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. September is World Alzheimer’s Month when providers are encouraged to wear purple and offer programs in their communities.