Growing old with dignity
Having cared for your loved one through the early and middles stages of Alzheimer’s, you now find yourself having to provide more intensive care, as his or her condition worsens quite significantly. You will notice, for instance, that the ability to communicate can appear disappear altogether, walking is extremely difficult and eating and swallowing is problematic. You might also find that he or her is morse susceptible to infections.
Although your loved one may seem to be totally oblivious to the outside world and unable to communicate basic needs, it is important to remember that his or her ability to bond, albeit marginally, may not have completely gone. You should remember not to stop stimulating the senses, such as preparing familiar meals, playing music that he or her music that he or she has always liked and looking at and talking about photos of special times in the past. Even a walk or a ride in a wheelchair through the garden can be of benefit.
This can be a particularly emotional and stressful time, as the realisation that the end of life approaches. You should not bear this burden all alone. As a rule, this stage calls for full time care. You cannot and should not attempt to do this on your own. As much as you feel obliged to be the primary caregiver, it is wise to make use of a professional caregiver with expertise in caring for persons with Alzheimer’s. More than ever you need to take care of yourself. Do not feel guilty about taking time off, even getting a caregiver to come in at night so that you are able to get adequate sleep.
The caregiver should now focus on comfort and dignity. Grooming and personal hygiene should not be neglected, as is trying to establish and adhere to a suitable routine.
As the late stage off Alzheimer’s could last for as little as three to six months, you should now plan for the inevitable outcome. Involve your family in making the necessary plans and seek counselling if required. Be appreciative and proud of your devotion to caring for your loved one and be prepared to let go.