Receiving the news that an older family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is life-altering. Thinking through the many different facets and factors associated with the disease as well as its effects, both now and in the future, can be overwhelming.
In this three-part series, we’ll examine the early, middle and later stages of dementia. We’ll explore the type of care needed during each stage, what family caregivers can expect, and how Inspired Home Care, providers of trusted elder care in Barrington, IL and nearby areas, can help.
Symptoms of Middle Stage Alzheimer’s: What Caregivers Can Expect
Symptoms of middle stage Alzheimer’s often manifest slowly, and can even be unnoticeable initially. Eventually, a senior loved one in this stage will begin to encounter increasing challenges with everyday tasks, like getting dressed. It is vital for family caregivers to continue to promote a feeling of independence, allowing the senior loved one to do these tasks at his / her own pace as long as possible (and as long as it is safe to do so). This involves flexibility, patience, and adaptability.
It will become essential to devote additional time to providing care, and to develop innovative strategies and approaches to reduce frustration – for the senior and for yourself. Self-care becomes vitally important in the middle stage of dementia in order to help caregivers manage stress.
Here is what you may expect to encounter in this stage:
- Repetitive behaviors
- Aggressive outbursts (verbal and/or physical)
How You Can Help
Maintaining a calm demeanor is key. Do not argue or try to reason with someone in the middle stage of dementia. In a soothing and calm tone, recognize the feeling behind the behavior and give suggestions in order to help. For example: “Grandma, I see you are feeling annoyed about misplacing your favorite shirt. It’s probably in the washing machine. This pink one looks pretty on you; would you like to wear it today?”
Be aware that the words and actions being used are not a reflection of you personally, but merely part of the common progression of dementia. Many times, there is a fundamental emotion, such as fear, exhaustion, or hunger, driving the behavior. Try to ascertain the primary cause and tackle that.
- Losing train of thought
- Forgetting a word or phrase
- Repeating questions or statements
- The use of more non-verbal communication
How You Can Help
Accept whatever form of communication is most effective for the individual, without trying to correct her or him. Alter your communication technique to make it simpler and easier for the senior to understand and respond to you. For instance, instead of asking open-ended questions (“What would you like for lunch today?”) offer a choice between just two options (“Would you like tuna or chicken for lunch today?”). Speak in a clear, soothing tone, and allow your senior loved one ample time to respond without jumping in and providing the answer yourself.
- Driving concerns
In this stage of the disease, paying closer attention to safety issues becomes very important. Driving should stop – something that is frequently difficult for older adults to accept. If at all possible, include the senior in making this decision. If not, a note from the physician prohibiting driving is often the best way to gain his or her consent. In the event the senior is insistent about continuing to drive, you may have to hide the keys, or replace his / her set of keys with nonworking ones.
Likewise, wandering and sundowning are often alarming and difficult for family caregivers to manage independently. Partnering with a licensed care provider with experience in dementia care, like Inspired Home Care, providers of top-rated elder care in Barrington, IL, and the surrounding communities, is a great solution. Our caregivers can take the night shift, making certain older adults are safe and distracted with interesting activities when struggling to sleep – enabling family caregivers to get the rest they require.