Your mom’s been very forgetful lately. Her doctor referred her to a neurologist, and your family learned she has Alzheimer’s disease. With 6.5 million Americans all diagnosed with dementia, it’s not unusual to learn a family member has it. But, it’s left you with a lot of questions about what she needs now and in the future.
It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen in the next months and years. You may have friends or family members who have been through this before. You might have seen how Alzheimer’s progresses in shows and movies. Fans of This Is Us watched Kate’s slow progression and got a good look into how it can go.
How do you best prepare yourself when the disease is so unpredictable? Make sure you’re armed with knowledge. Know what care is available in order to arrange that care when it’s needed. These are the areas to pay close attention to.
Assistance With Personal Care
There’s going to come a time when your mom can’t understand what she should be wearing. She tries to wear jeans and a heavy sweatshirt on a 90-degree day. In the middle of winter, she’s in thin Yoga pants and a cotton t-shirt and doesn’t want to put on a jacket to go outside.
That’s often the first sign that she needs help with personal care. She’ll eventually need help showering, brushing and flossing her teeth, and toileting. As she doesn’t like others helping her, she may become a bit combative and refuse to cooperate. Be ready to reward her for cooperating by giving her a favorite snack or taking her on a walk.
Help With Meals
People with Alzheimer’s still have the recollection of cooking meals for themselves, but they often lose track of where they are and move on to the next thing. Imagine what could happen if your mom put a pizza in the oven, forgot about it, and went to bed. Situations like this are common with Alzheimer’s.
You need to install devices that cut off power or gas to appliances to prevent your mom from starting a kitchen fire. Bring in someone to help her cook. She doesn’t have to stop cooking, but she does need supervision to make sure the items are removed when they’re ready and appliances are turned off.
Transportation Throughout the Week
Your mom can’t drive. That’s one of the first things her doctor will tell her. While she may still seem okay, her reaction times are going to slow down. She may forget the crucial steps for safe driving. She may not recognize an area or street and get lost. Others need to be available to take her shopping, to run errands, and to bring her to appointments.
When you drive your mom, she may forget simple rules like putting on her seatbelt. You’ll have to help her. You might find that motion sickness appears, and she’s never been carsick before. Limit the length of the trips when possible, have a bag just in case, and see if she does better in the backseat than in the front.
Alzheimer’s care ensures your mom has the help she needs as the disease progresses. While families may experience similarities to what they’ve seen in videos or with friends, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from one person to the next.
You have no way of predicting how long your mom will battle the disease or how quickly each stage will appear. Once she enters the next stage, she may plateau for a while or abruptly move to the next stage. It’s hard to tell. With Alzheimer’s care, you’re ready for the stages as they arrive.