Perhaps there’s been a slow change in one of your loved ones.
Maybe mom started struggling to remember names a few years ago. She might have called through the whole family before she got to you – reeling through the names of her sisters, brothers, and childhood pets before finally getting to the names of her children.
It’s just part of getting old, you thought. Everyone forgets things. There’s no need to worry.
Or maybe it was something larger that first caught your attention.
It might have been the day it took dad four hours to get home from the home improvement store. Sure, you may have thought, he likes to take his time, look around and chat with a few people. No need for concern there. But four hours, now that’s something.
Maybe you called his cell phone, and he didn’t pick up. You might have felt your heart beating fast, your chest getting tight. Maybe there was something really wrong.
The Search Is On
So, you may have done what anyone would do in that situation. You got in your car and drove to the home improvement store, your eyes peeled along the way. You hope not to see an accident on the side of the road.
When you arrive at the store, you drive up and down the aisles of the parking lot, searching for dad’s green van. It’s nowhere to be found.
You’re emotional now. You park your car and head inside, hoping to find him wandering the aisles. As you walk around, you have to bite your tongue to keep from crying out his name. Everything is probably fine, you try to reassure yourself, but you won’t be able to relax until you know for sure.
A Bittersweet Ending
Maybe you don’t find dad in the store. Now you would really be getting worried. You get on the phone and call everyone you can think of to help you on your search. You start driving up and down the streets closest to the store, still searching for his van.
Please, you might be thinking, let him be all right.
Finally, after hours of worry, you might finally get a call on your cell phone. Dad has been found. Tears of relief stream down your face. He’s safe and well.
Check this link: https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures.pdf for more information about Alzheimer’s disease.
You realize that this was a wake-up call. The next time dad gets confused or disoriented, you might not get so lucky.
A New Day
You find out that dad got confused when he left the store and could not remember how to get home. He drove around for hours, hoping to see something familiar.
You might be feeling frightened. You might be feeling overwhelmed.
Suddenly, you know that your father is no longer in a position to live safely alone. His house is full of dangers. What if he leaves the gas on? What if he starts a fire while cooking and doesn’t remember how to use his fire extinguisher?
You may walk around his home, seeing all the potential threats you used to ignore.
What can you do?
You may decide to look into Alzheimer’s palliative care. More than just an assisted living facility, palliative care refers to a care style that treats the whole person and not just their disease.
For example, a good palliative care program might involve lessening a patient’s stress. This could mean unlimited visits by friends and family. It might mean that the patient is treated with things to help them feel whole. Being visited by an esthetician to help maintain their hair and nails can bring normalcy to a new environment.
A sensitive palliative care nurse might notice that dad isn’t eating his meals and decide to ask him what he likes to eat best. When he says that, “chocolate is his life,” they decide to get it for him. These are just some of the little things that can make a person feel more at ease.
Many palliative care homes seek to keep the patients secure. This may mean a dedicated floor for Alzheimer’s patients who are secured by alarm and code. This way, if anyone were able to leave, the staff would be aware right away.
This is all part of palliative care. Click here to learn more about it.
Palliative care seeks to treat the whole person, not just the illness. It takes into consideration the effects of stress and environment on an illness and works to alleviate those as much as possible.
Being in a caring facility can make all the difference for a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They can provide consistent, dedicated care in a controlled environment for the benefit of the patient, as well as their family.