Building a Caregiving Team
In the early to mid stages of Alzheimer’s, taking care of your loved one can range in difficulty and commitment — from dropping in to check Dad’s mail to helping your spouse get dressed in the morning. And since the early and mid-stages of Alzheimer’s can last for several years, it’s also a long-term commitment that has no off-hours or weekends.
That’s why it’s important to build a caregiving team — people who can help support you and your loved one by lending a hand with simple chores, finances, and more. If your loved one still lives independently, try to find friends, neighbors, or hired help who can check in or stop by to help with chores. If your loved one lives with you, you may be obligated to do it all, 24/7. But everyone needs a helping hand — and a break every once in a while. Find a trusted family member, friend, or even an adult day care that can act as a caretaker for the day or weekend, so that you can care for yourself.
The more support you have, the more you can cherish the time you have with your loved one.
Alzheimer's Question Guide
From early testing and diagnosis to prescriptions and long-term care, the amount of questions Alzheimer’s raises can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of important questions you can ask your loved one’s doctor to get you started.
7 Tips for Early to Mid-Stage Caregivers
- Plan ahead as early as possible. Your loved one may still live independently, but eventually, they will need help with transportation, finances, healthcare, safety, and more.
- Build a caretaking team of friends, family, and neighbors who can help support you and your loved one.
- Be patient with your loved one — and yourself. You are both learning to find new balance in a challenging situation.
- Take care of yourself, too. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can cherish your time with your loved one.
- Try to fight denial. It can be hard to face, but it’s important to admit how dementia is affecting your loved one so that you can provide safety and care.
- Prepare for some aggression from your loved one. Remember, they will also be frustrated at times with their memory loss and confusion. Denial, frustration, and anger aren’t personal to you.
- Find support. Alzheimer’s can be emotionally challenging for caretakers. A support group can help you find your resources and feel less alone.
Navigating Early to Mid-Stage Alzheimer's
Safely is one of the primary concerns of Alzheimer's, especially as it relates to transportation or even just getting around the house. Explore the topics below to help you navigate these beginning stages of Alzheimer's.
Creating a Safe Environment
Below are a few tips to create a safe environment for your loved one.
- Keep detergent and other chemicals locked in a safe place
- Administer your loved one’s medication and keep it hidden or locked away
- Keep floors clear of objects to avoid tripping and falling
- Use nightlights throughout the house to avoid falls and confusion
- Be careful of stairwells
- Recognize when it’s time for them to stop driving
- Install a lock high or low on doorways to prevent wandering
- Keep emergency numbers posted just in case
How to Know When Alzheimer's Has Progressed
While it typically takes four to eight years for Alzheimer’s to reach its late stages, there’s no set timeframe for how quickly the disease progresses. This can make it difficult to tell how and when your loved one’s capabilities are changing, especially if your loved one is still living independently. The best way to monitor Alzheimer’s is to communicate often with your loved one — dropping in and checking up as often as possible to help out and observe their behavior.
If your loved one lives with you, you should maximize independence whenever (safely) possible. Allowing your loved one to do as much as they can on their own will not only give them a sense of freedom, it will also help you tell when they’re no longer able to do daily tasks on their own.
The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's
The progression of Alzheimer's has been mapped into seven stages that might help you identify your loved one's current needs or challenges. Read more >