For family caregivers, having a loved one suffering from dementia is never easy. Seeing a person that you love slowly forget things that were once second nature to them can be depressing. When they struggle to remember you or other family members, it is incredibly heartbreaking. Family members, especially those most heavily involved in the caregiving process, have noted that although cognitive changes are very difficult to witness, one of the hardest parts about a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is witnessing personality changes.
Personality changes tend to happen early on in the development of Alzheimer’s, and they tend to precede changes in behavior. Changes are usually unpleasant and include things like mood swings, depression, and aggression. Because they occur so early in the development of the disease, it’s normal that those changes can be scary, both for the observer and the person experiencing them. The researchers that are trying to establish when and why these changes occur, and how they contribute to the progression of the disease, admit that there’s a lot of extra research that needs to be done in this area. However, it is important to know how and why these things happen because it can help us as family members be more alert and take the proper steps to give our loved ones the best care possible for their particular situation.
These changes are not just hard for the people that love and care about the person developing dementia. They are hard for the person coping with the illness, too. In fact, during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the person with the disease copes with what is called mild cognitive impairment. During this time, they may be very aware of the fact that they are unable to remember the things that they want to, and that they are not reacting to situations in a normal way. The changes that they are experiencing are perhaps even more frustrating for them than they are for those observing the changes.
Everyone who experiences mild cognitive impairment does not have Alzheimer’s, and not everyone who experiences Alzheimer’s progresses through the disease in the same way. However, there are some common threads, and being aware of them can help us as family members to be more vigilant and proactive with the care and attention that our loved ones receive. Those with dementia of any sort often need a different type of senior care than those with other disabilities, and knowing this at the beginning of the care search can help us to direct our energy to the right resources.
In-home care might not be an option for those with advanced dementia, but it can be very helpful in the early stages. The care choices that you help your family to make are important, and weighing factors like these–and taking concepts like continuity of care into account–can make a world of difference. As always, if you have any questions about care, please feel free to get in touch with us. We can schedule a free consultation and help guide you and your loved one in the right direction for your unique journey through senior care.