No Hope in a Bottle: The Best Care for Alzheimer's is a Good Caregiver
Pharmaceutical companies search for a cure to dementia and Alzheimer's, but, recent news shows that a cure does not exist. We've seen a cure for progressive brain disease touted in the recent film Dallas Buyers Club. We see banner ads on the internet for Ginkgo Biloba supplements to improve memory. Some people swear that these medicines and vitamins work. They say they have seen an improvement in their loved one's mental condition. Any proof that these drugs work is currently all anecdotal. There is no scientific study proving that any drug exists to battle dementia and Alzheimer's.
Dementia and Alzheimer's are mental disorders where the brain function of the individual declines to the point of interrupting daily life. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. It will cause mental, physical, and emotional changes in a person's behavior. If you have seen dementia or Alzheimer's in action, you know how changed your loved one becomes. Dementia, in the form of memory loss, difficulty in recall, and changes in behavior is a normal and expected result of aging. Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer's changes the way your loved one can eat, drink, process thoughts and emotions, and control her own body.
At the first sign of dementia and Alzheimer's, it is important that you make an appointment with your loved one's doctor. You need to discuss Power of Attorney, wills, trusts, and funeral plans while your loved one still has mental function. Please don't leave these decisions to the last minute. These kind of end-of-life decisions place such strain on the family when early planning allows you to avoid it. The first signs of dementia or Alzheimer's is also the time to look into a caregiver or assisted living facility.
While drug manufacturers search for a cure, the reality is dementia and Alzheimer's don't get better with time. They will only get worse. This unfortunate side effect of the diagnosis means that you have limited time to act. You must find a trusted caregiver who has experience with caring for someone who has dementia or Alzheimer's. The special needs of these patients are such that a regular nurse or neighbor or family member won't do.
Difficulties with the mind cause frustration on everyone's part. Your loved one forgets the words for things. People wander off and become lost. Accidents happen. If your loved one is going to stay at home, you will need a caregiver 24 hours a day for your loved one's safety. This reason is why many families opt for assisted living or a nursing home.
It might seem cold to move your loved one away from her home, but think about the long term. Paying for around the clock care is a salary. You will also have to pay the mortgage, utilities, insurance, caregiver liability insurance, medical expenses, food, prescription medication, and transportation costs for your loved one. Assisted living will bundle these costs into one monthly bill instead of many. They will also bundle in the cost for the incontinence supplies and any other kind of wholesale medical supplies your loved one needs. It is not safer to keep her at home as nursing homes have doctors and trained nurses on staff. It is not better to keep her at home when she could be in the company of other people daily.
Making these decisions is not easy. The emotions involved with your loved one's care will be complex. Talk with your loved one before aging takes its toll. Work out end-of-life plans early. We can not rely on a magic pill to cure dementia and Alzheimer's, but you can plan for a caregiver who will help you along the way.