Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s can be physically taking and emotionally draining. Even professional caregivers can become overwhelmed from time to time. The realization that one needs help can be difficult to face, and not always easy to identify.
Meeting the needs of an Alzheimer's patient is top priority. As a patient’s needs change, so must the care plan. A single caregiver may not be able to meet the needs and demands as they develop.
Independence plays a large role in the need for care. As a patient begins to lose abilities to walk, eat, perform hygiene routines, and use the restroom, the demand on the caregiver increases. Refer to the Alzheimer's Caregiver Assessment for signs of disease progression. As Alzheimer's progresses, the process can be particularly draining on friends and family. Handling the physical aspects of a loved one’s decline can be challenging, frustrating, and saddening.
It is essential that a caregiver gauge what works, what doesn't, and when a change should be made to the care plan. When changing a care plan it is important to consider both the patient and the caregiver needs. This review should include risks to the affected individual and the caregiver.
Often, the caregiver recognizes the need for assistance long before the affected person. Identifying and acknowledging the need for help is something that may not come easily to a patient. The thought of losing their independence, no matter how minimally, can hinder a patient from asking for help. If aware of an illness, family and friends can identify signs of trouble, and plan accordingly. Knowledge and awareness will help to keep the patient safe and alleviate additional stress on all parties involved.