Alzheimer’s Disease and Elderly Care

ArthritisThere has been a lot of talk in recent years about the burden that the aging population will inevitably place on society. As people are living longer, and as treatments for certain diseases becomes more complex, it becomes apparent that we all need to have something in place to ensure that we are looked after when we become older. Although families are often called upon to take over the burden of care, in many cases this just isn’t feasible and we’re left with no other option than to choose home care.

This is particularly true when our loved ones contract debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s. As a society, it is a disease that strikes fear to the core, and one which we are still at pains to fully understand. Part of a wider mental debilitation called “dementia”, Alzheimer’s affects around 700,000 people in the UK, but is notoriously hard to diagnose in the early stages due to its symptoms being widely similar to those generally associated with old age. These figures, if projections are correct, are set to rise dramatically within the next 20 years, placing an even bigger burden on families and wider society.

Symptoms to look out for

Although the symptoms of dementia are wide ranging and often vague in the early stages, there are a number of things that you can look out for. High risk groups, such as those who have a family history of the disease, previous severe head injuries or those who have certain lifestyle factors to consider, should be particularly diligent if any of the following begins to become a problem:

  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty articulating words/sentences
  • Feeling disorientated
  • Changes in personality and/or behaviour

If you are worried that a loved one may be affected, then you should consult your doctor straight away so that you can move forwards with the minimum possible disruption to their lifestyles.

succesful senior couple in love

Dementia Care

If your loved one is diagnosed, there are, again, a number of things that you will need to think about. Although at first the disease may be manageable, you will need to keep a close eye on developments and ensure that you get help when you need it. Home care is a good start for the onset of the disease. This is where you can employ a carer to come to the house of the patient once a day to ensure that they are washed, dressed and have eaten. This method is often preferable for people who wish for their loved ones to remain in their own homes, continuing to lead a normal life for as long as possible. As the disease progresses, if you are adamant that your loved ones should remain in their homes, then a live-in carer can provide these services whilst being on-hand 24/7 to ensure that the patient remains safe.

Unfortunately, for many victims of the disease and their families, because of government legislation, it may be necessary for the patient to sell their homes in order to pay for care. Although this can be a bit of an upheaval (particularly if the disease is in advanced stages) sometimes, a nursing home can be the best possible place for the patient. Companies like Managing Care are now focusing their attentions on caring for those with dementia, and have specially trained nurses on hand to ensure that patients get the best treatment. Moreover, there has been an increased emphasis on the use of therapeutic exercises which care homes are better placed to provide than home carers.

Obviously, these are decisions that should never be taken lightly, and you should think long and hard about which option you think is right for you. For help and advice, the Alzheimer’s Society can provide you with further information.