Every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. Currently, more than 16 million provide unpaid care for a loved one diagnosed with this disease or other dementias. That equals over 18.5 billion hours of care for 2019. If you are a part of this trusted group of individuals, it can be tough. However, with the right support and guidance, you can and will continue to make a difference in your loved one’s life.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a type of dementia, and the most common. As it progresses over time, the early stages produce a milder form of memory loss and inability to recall newly learned information. In the later stages, those diagnosed will eventually lose the ability to react to their environment, mood and behavior changes, confusion, unproven suspicions, and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
As a person with AD moves through the stages of the disease, anxiety, and agitation can manifest and become a new level of challenge for a caregiver. Agitation can is caused by changes in the environment due to disease progression. It can cause pacing, loss of sleep, and aggression. Some of the causes of agitation are:
- Loss of Ability to do Everyday Things- Such as drive, and carry out regular tasks like preparation of food, for example.
- Medication Interactions- Agitation could be a side effect, or there may be a negative interaction with another prescription.
- Inability to Sleep- It causes irritability.
- Loneliness- Less contact with people.
- Too Much Noise and Confusion- It can be overwhelming for them.
Coping with Agitation
If you notice your loved one is showing signs of agitation, you should work with them to get an appointment right away with their doctor. They can review all current medications for any contraindications and see if it is appropriate to introduce a medicine or therapy for the agitation. Alz.org recommends the following tips for caregivers:
- Back Off- Ask permission, use calm, positive statements, and offer alternatives.
- What to Say- Some phrases to say, “I am sorry you are upset,” “Do you have time to help me?”, “May I help you?”.
- Listen- Find out the frustration cause. Listen and try to understand.
- Modify Environment-Decrease noise and distractions, and if needed, relocate.
- Find Outlets for Their Energy- Take a walk or go for a drive in the car.
- Support YOU- Sharing your experience with others can be a huge help knowing you are not alone. You can also get the advice you did not know before. Check out this excellent resource for caregivers.
As a caregiver for someone with AD, you play an intricate role in the quality of their remaining life. Not every day will be hard, and not every day will be easy. There is no cure for this disease, but the first survivor is out there through the efforts of clinical trials.
Centex Studies, Inc. has taken their place in the journey to find the cure and better treatment options. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, clinical trials may be an option for you. Qualified participants receive study-related medication and care and reimbursement for time and travel. To learn more about our studies enrolling for AD in McAllen, TX, click here!