We’d like to start by saying: “we’re sorry to hear that.”
We start this way, because people rarely enter a page like this simply out of curiosity. They come to pages like this for help. For answers. They come to this page because dementia has likely reared its head in the life of a loved one.
So, we’ll say it again.
“We’re sorry to hear that.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2019 almost 6 million people were living with the disease.
That already sounds like a lot. But in our opinion, it’s much more than that.
You see, when someone is experiencing cognitive decline, it’s not just them that has to live with it. It’s their loved ones, too.
The emotional and mental toll that seeing a loved one with dementia takes on family and friends is huge. So while 6 million may be the number of people who have been diagnosed - the number of people it affects is so much more.
And it’s those people we have built this page for. The loved ones and the caregivers. It is our hope that this page can become a resource for you, answering questions you may have about taking care of a loved one.
It won’t be an easy journey, but so many others are doing it with you. You are not alone.
Before we begin, we wanted to address the vocabulary we’ll be using in this segment.
What’s the difference between “Alzheimer’s” and “dementia?”
Many people assume that “Alzheimer’s” and “Dementia” refer to the same thing. That’s not strictly true.
“Alzheimer’s” refers to “Alzheimer’s disease.” This is a nasty affliction that progressively annihilates a person’s memory, and other important mental functions. The brain cells slowly degenerate and die.
“Dementia” doesn’t refer to a disease. “Dementia” instead is a term that is used to collectively describe the symptoms that are associated with a disease like Alzheimer’s: memory loss, skewed judgment, limited social skills, etc.
In layman’s terms, “Alzheimer’s” is to “flu” as “dementia” is to a “running nose, fever, sore throat, etc.”
So, if I’m looking for signs of Alzheimer’s, then I’m looking for dementia?
As we mentioned in the intro, you’ve likely visited our page because you think you’re seeing some signs in a parent or other loved one that COULD be dementia.
We’re aware that’s a lot to keep track of. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the 7 stages of dementia.
The Reisberg scale, or Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) breaks down the deterioration one experiences with dementia into 7 stages. It’s important to try and place your loved one on this scale so you can understand how they are progressing, and when you may need to increase their level of care.
Stage One // No Cognitive Decline: This is where most of us are - we are mentally sound, we are functioning within our daily routines effectively, and aren’t experiencing memory loss. There is no presence of dementia.
Stage Two // Very Mild Cognitive Decline: Here, a level of forgetfulness that we normally associate with aging creeps in - forgetting where we’ve left certain objects, or trouble finding the occasional name. Still, physicians, friends and family would not yet deem these to be symptoms of dementia.
Stage Three // Mild Cognitive Decline: For the first time on the scale, those close to the loved one would start to notice the symptoms as more than just the natural aging process. This will manifest in increased forgetfulness, slight difficulties in concentration, and also a decreased level of work performance. Our loved one may get lost more frequently or have more trouble finishing their sentences and finding the right words. This stage typically lasts between 2 and 7 years.
Stage Four // Moderate Cognitive Decline: During stage four is likely the time a formal dementia diagnosis would be made. The average duration of stage 4 is about 2 years and this is the time that forgetfulness will start to broaden to more recent events. You may also notice your loved one has difficulty travelling alone as they get lost far more easily. Managing finances also becomes difficult due to poor judgment. You will notice their social skills and habits start to change. Your loved one becomes withdrawn more easily, and also seems to be in denial of their own symptoms.
Taking all of this into account, is it even possible to effectively take care of a parent with dementia at home?
Yes, it absolutely is, especially if your parent is currently on the lower reaches of the scale.
We don’t write all of the above to try and frighten people out of taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s. We write it so you understand the massive challenges that await you.
However, as difficult as the tasks may be, the relationship between a caregiver and a loved one can also be incredibly rewarding.
So, let’s get into the nitty gritty! The following will help explain to you how you can start caring for your loved one!
Taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s and Dementia is an incredibly tough journey. But you are not alone.
The worst mistake you can make when caring for your parent with Alzheimer’s is to assume that there is no one to help you. You won’t make it if you try to shoulder all the responsibility.
We will all go through rough patches when it comes to caregiving where we need a helping hand.
Not only are there retirement communities and in-home care services, there are also plenty of support groups for caregivers throughout the United States. We even recommend joining online forums or Facebook groups where caregivers are able to exchange ideas and ask each other for help with difficult situations.
This will be a massive undertaking, but you can only take it one step at a time. Take your first step by purchasing a Robin Clock today and giving your loved one the gift of structure!