Most Frequently Asked Questions from Family Caregivers

It’s no secret that caregiving can be overwhelming and, whether you have been a caregiver for a few days or many years, you may still have questions. Continuous learning is an important part of being a caregiver and often the more knowledge you have, the more in control and capable you will feel.

At the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative, our team of compassionate professionals are eager to help provide answers, education and training. We have put together a list below of our most frequently asked questions from family caregivers and our answers.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia?

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and is the most common cause of dementia.

If there is no cure, why should I get a diagnosis? 

Early detection and diagnosis are key. This can help rule out other treatable conditions that may be causing cognitive problems. It can also slow the progression of the disease by starting a treatment plan for the individual as soon as possible. Additionally, it’s important to be able to have conversations about the future, including finances, legal matters and long-term care, while the person with Alzheimer’s can still effectively communicate their wishes

How do I know what to expect, how fast will things change?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease usually progresses slowly in three main stages: early, middle and late.

In the early stage, signs of memory loss become more common. It is important during this stage to talk with a doctor and get a dementia diagnosis.

During the middle stage, you may start to notice the person with Alzheimer’s having more difficulty. Safety concerns may increase. Contact the Caregiver Support Initiative for a home safety checklist that goes through each room of the house providing safety recommendations.

In the late stage, care receivers will have more trouble completing activities of daily living that many of us take for granted such as showering, eating and moving around their home. Caregivers may conclude that they cannot provide the level of care that their care receiver needs in the home anymore and may consider other options such as assisted living, nursing homes or home health aides. There is no right or wrong choice, it is a personal decision.

How do I know when it’s time to get help, or place my loved one? 

All caregivers need a break sometimes. We offer free respite services for a temporary reprieve from caregiving. If you are feeling stressed out, burned out or just need time do personal things like attend an appointment, a family commitment or recharge, we can help. Please contact your care navigator or call 1-800-388-0199 number to get started.

If you are feeling that you need a more permanent solution and can no longer provide the level of care needed by your care receiver, consider scheduling a care consultation with our team of Care Navigators. We will help identify next steps and give a written action plan that assesses the needs of everyone involved, including making decisions about care options.

Remember, don’t wait to ask for help. We are here for you when you need us.

How do I get my loved one to take a shower, change their clothes, brush their teeth when they are refusing?

This can be understandably frustrating. However, it is important to remember that there is no point in arguing with a person suffering from dementia.

Maintaining a daily routine can help as well as creating a distraction-free environment. Turning off the TV or asking others to leave the room for a few minutes can be effective. Give the individual time and be patient with them. If they are too agitated, try again later in the day.

My loved one refuses to leave the home. How do I get them out of the home?

The idea of leaving their safe space at home may be frightening to a person with dementia. Try taking the process slowly, step-by-step. First put shoes on, then a coat, next walk outside and get into the car. Allow for plenty of extra time. Some may find it helpful to withhold what the destination is, such as a doctor’s office, if that causes undue stress. Instead of saying you are going to a doctor appointment, take the care receiver to lunch or an activity they enjoy and then stop at the doctor’s office on the way home.

I’m worried about my loved one continuing to drive, how do I get them to stop? 

Individuals in the middle and late stages of dementia should not drive. Try talking with your care receiver about your concerns first. If more support is needed, ask their doctor to talk with them. If they still refuse to stop driving willingly, take action such as hiding the car keys and moving the car out of sight.

If you don’t see your question answered above, give our team a call on our caregiver support line at 1-800-388-0199. You can also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WeHelpCaregivers.

 

Sources:

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/Difference-Between-Dementia-and-Alzheimer-s

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/Stages

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/aging-parent-refuses-go-to-doctor-133384.htm#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20common,itself%20is%20often%20to%20blame.

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/driving-safety-and-alzheimers-disease#:~:text=People%20with%20very%20mild%20Alzheimer’s,could%20get%20hurt%20or%20killed.