We are all becoming aware of the word Alzheimers as there is almost daily reference to it in the news papers, magazines, promotional handouts and of course advice on how to recognize it in ourselves or indeed loved ones. If we have had personal experience of this, either our parents, or other relatives who have suffered from this disease, then we know first hand of the difficulties that face the person themselves and also the people who care for them. A person may have been suffering from Alzheimers for some time, but only as this worsens, does it become apparent and some of the early symptoms are:
Memory loss: This can happen over a period of time, and only when it impacts on a person’s ability to care for them selves, communicate their feelings or take care of themselves does it become a concern. There are many reasons for short term memory loss, and the correct diagnosis is of paramount importance. Your G.P. can help by arranging an appointment with a “Memory Clinic” as a first point of call.
Social isolation: A person suffering from Alzheimers can withdraw from their hobbies, social activities and from going out to see friends, and become increasingly withdrawn and insular.
Disorientation: A person may loose the ability to manage their day to day life, dates, appointments, shopping and planning ahead. This can lead to difficulty in completing everyday tasks, including personal hygiene, cooking, caring for pets, even putting on the t.v. and operating the remote controls.
Behaviour: A person’s behaviour may change, with mood swings and anxiety and also lack of physical co-ordination. A person may become aggressive, agitated, and loose the ability to reason,
How can we help
We have been caring for Alzheimers suffers for over 20 years, and during this time, have discovered how to come alongside a sufferer and support them and their family both in the early stages, with help and support, and in the later stages with “live in care” to offer a real alternative to a loved one going into an E.M.I. unit or Nursing Home.
An example of one such story:
Caring for Violet
(This is not her real name to respect her privacy)
We had a phone call several years ago from Violet’s daughter, she was looking to book a “live in care” package to care for her mother. Violet had lost her husband in the previous week, and in the aftermath of this loss, it became clear to her family that the severity of Violet’s Alzheimers had been masked by the care provided by her husband. Initially, her daughter asked us to book one month’s care to enable the family to arrange their father’s funeral and then to look for a suitable care home for their mother.
At the initial meeting with Violet and her family, I was able to meet her, and reassure her that she was not going into a care home. This was something that she was determined she would not do. I said that I would find someone to come and stay with her, and that she would not be moving out of her home. Violet agreed, and as we got on so well, asked if it would be me coming to stay. I was able, at that meeting, to speak to her family, she had 3 children, all of them teachers, and all of them living long distances away. They in turn were able to tell me about Violet’s life, her interests and things that she enjoyed and, just as importantly, things that she did not enjoy. We chose a carer who had a love of music, as this was one of the things that Violet was passionate about, and so our relationship with Violet started.
The family were so impressed by the care and support and improvement in their mother’s health, that we continued to provide the care package for over eighteen months. Violet was able once again go to the Birmingham Symphony Hall, walk to the shops, have her friends round, and enjoy an independent quality of life supported by “live in care”. Sadly after 18 months, Violet’s behaviour did deteriorate and it was decided in consultation with her family, psycho geriatrician and her main carer, that she did need to go into a residential care setting, and this transition took place with Violet being supported all the way.
Each person is unique and deserves an opportunity to live out their lives as independently and happily as they can, with the level of support they need to achieve this. Please call us to discuss how we may help you.