Doctors have separated the progression of Alzheimer's disease into three stages - early, middle and late. Each stage requires different Alzheimer's care, because the individual's needs change. In the early stages of the disease, many people are able to live and function independently, but may need support in certain areas. Here are the ways caregivers can help in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
The time after a loved one receives an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be frightening and stressful for the individual and his or her loved ones. During this time, caregivers can help by discussing what the individual wants to do about sharing the diagnosis at work, in social circles and with family.
It is important that family and friends understand the disease and its effects, including what symptoms and behaviors they should expect. Caregivers can also share resources about the disease and support groups in the area, The Mayo Clinic reports. Sharing the diagnosis can cause anxiety, but the sooner the news is shared, the sooner family and friends can come together to support one another and help the primary caregiver.
Planning for the future
The early stages of Alzheimer's disease are also a critical time to plan for the future. Caregivers should discuss all topics that will need to be addressed later, including the individual's preferences for legal, financial and care options, the Alzheimer's Association reports.
These conversations should cover who will make healthcare and financial decisions when the individual is no longer able, who the primary caregiver will be and where the person will live, according to Helpguide.org.
Offering support now
Although the early stages of Alzheimer's disease are important times to adjust to the news and plan for the future, it is also important that caregivers consider ways in which they can help a loved one with symptoms. Caring.com reports that the early stages are the times when forgetfulness becomes obvious in these individuals, so it can help to encourage them to rely on things such as lists, diaries, calendars and other routines that encourage habits.
It is also important that caregivers encourage their loved one to stay engaged and active for as long as possible. This could mean the person continues to live alone, but caregivers can still call or visit every day and make sure housekeeping, bills, transportation and other needs are being met, the Alzheimer's Association recommends.