For an elder caregiver , the behavioral and personality changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease are to be expected, but for a child, they can be alarming. When a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is receiving elder care near Memphis, it may be time to consider how to explain these changes to your children in a way that won’t frighten them. Children are remarkably resilient, but they often fear the unknown. Explaining the basics of dementia may be the most effective way to reassure your kids that the changes grandma or grandpa is experiencing are caused by a medical condition.
Find out what your child knows about the disease.
Your child might already have a vague idea of what Alzheimer’s is, depending on his or her age. Consider starting the discussion by asking your child if he or she has heard of Alzheimer’s before, and if so, what your child knows about it. This gives you an opportunity to correct misconceptions and fill in the gaps in your child’s knowledge of the disease.
Explain how Alzheimer’s affects your loved one.
Let your child know that grandma or grandpa has been receiving assisted living services because he or she has Alzheimer’s disease and needs some extra help around the house. Reassure your child that Alzheimer’s disease does not spread from one person to the next, that it progresses very slowly, and that the family still has lots of time to enjoy grandma or grandpa’s company. Point to specific examples of how Alzheimer’s has affected your loved one . You might explain that the disease is why the grandparent keeps forgetting your child’s name, for example, or sometimes talks about things that don’t exist. Reassure your child that it’s the disease that is causing these changes, not something that your child did wrong.
Encourage your child to ask questions and share feelings.
Let your child know that it’s okay to feel sad and that you feel sad, too. Tell him or her that you always welcome your child’s questions and that you’d like it if he or she would share feelings about the situation. Moving forward, encourage your child to continue to enjoy spending time with your aging loved one.
Death is never easy to talk about, especially when a loved one is in hospice care. Those who do find the strength to say goodbye often discover that their loved ones appreciate having a frank discussion. If you’re having trouble starting the conversation, consider talking to a counselor, spiritual leader, or hospice care provider in Memphis.
Knowing When the Time is Right
Generally, doctors hesitate to define an anticipated life expectancy for patients with terminal illnesses. It simply isn’t possible to accurately predict whether a patient has six months or six weeks to live. But hospice caregivers, who work with the dying every day, are attuned to the signs that the end of life is near. As your loved one approaches death, you’re likely to notice at least some of the following changes:
- Refusal to eat and drink
- Decrease in urine output
- Decrease in body temperature
- Significant increase in sleeping
- Agitation and restlessness
- Confusion and hallucinations
- Sounds of chest congestion
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Periods of no breathing
It’s your decision whether to wait to say goodbye until your loved one is close to death. Bear in mind that, depending on your loved one’s health condition, he or she may not be able to have a clear conversation with you toward the end of life. If you are emotionally able to do so, you may prefer to say goodbye when your loved one first enters end of life care.
Starting the Conversation
When it comes to end of life conversations, there really isn’t a great way to break the ice. Sit with your loved one, hold his or her hand, and tell your loved one that you’re there for him or her. Ask what you can do to help your loved one be more comfortable. Let your loved one know that you understand he or she is dying, and then ask if it’s a good time to talk about it. Try to avoid using euphemisms unless you think your loved one would prefer it. It’s possible that your loved one has been waiting for you to start the discussion and would rather speak frankly about it.
Avoiding Future Regrets
When planning to have the conversation, think of what you might regret not saying to your loved one after he or she is gone. He or she might live for weeks or even months after you’ve said goodbye, but there’s always the possibility that you won’t get another chance to say what you need to say.
One of the many benefits of arranging for senior care services in Memphis is that you’ll be kept in the loop about changes in your aging parents’ health . The assisted living provider can prepare nutritious meals for your parents, but he or she can also let you know if your parents seem to have a sudden decline in weight. Sudden weight loss may indicate a serious medical problem. Ask the assisted living provider to take your parents to their doctor for an evaluation.
Some of the possible causes of sudden, unintentional weight loss in seniors include thyroid disorders, liver disease, depression, and cancer. Sometimes, weight loss occurs as a result of adjustments in medication. It can also be associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Sudden weight loss can cause muscle wasting and suppressed immune function, which can lead to severe health complications for elderly patients. To reduce this risk, your parents’ doctor may suggest that the caregiver begin preparing high-calorie meals and snacks.
After a loved one is discharged from a hospital or long-term care facility, families need to know that there is a risk of re-admittance to the hospital, particularly when the patient is a senior citizen. Careful discharge planning can reduce this risk. Discharge planning involves identifying the patient’s post-discharge needs and connecting the patient to the necessary resources. For example, it’s a good idea for family members to contact a home health agency in Memphis before the patient is discharged. An assisted living provider can ease the transition from the hospital to the home.
When you consult an in-home caregiver, you’ll learn what to expect when your loved one returns home and you’ll discuss ways of overcoming challenges. The assisted living provider may recommend home modifications to improve safety, for instance. A caregiver’s versatility can prove invaluable for your family. He or she can provide assistance with personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and transportation to follow-up medical appointments.