As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses, you may notice their words get mixed up and they may have physical and verbal outbursts. They may start to wander, have trouble getting dressed or act out of character, such as refusing to bathe. The progression of Alzheimer’s disease is not linear, so while you will both experience challenging days, there will be good days, too. At Banner Health, we offer hope and help, support and compassion. As you and your loved one navigate through the different stages of Alzheimer’s, and your loved one’s needs change, it’s important to know what to expect and how your role as a caregiver will change. The experts at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Banner’s memory care centers of excellence, are here to help you navigate this journey.
Caregiver Role During Middle-stage Alzheimer’s Disease
During middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease, daily routines will need to be adapted and structure will become more important. As the disease progresses through this stage, the amount of caregiver assistance needed will fluctuate. You may notice your loved one needs more assistance some days and less on others, and this may be challenging to manage at times.
Here are some helpful tips to help navigate the middle stage of Alzheimer's disease:
- Communication: You can help improve communication by making simple changes, such as speaking slowly and clearly in a gentle tone. Use a calm voice when responding to repeated questions. Be sure to respond to the emotion driving the questions, as they just simply may need reassurance. If you notice sudden or drastic changes in their ability to think or communicate, contact their provider as this could indicate delirium triggered by infection, dehydration, pain, another health condition or a reaction to medication.
- Daily care: Losing independence and privacy can be very difficult for your loved one to accept. Your patience and sensitivity will go a long way in helping them manage. Encourage your loved one to do as much as they can, but be ready to help when needed. For example, you can help your loved one to get dressed by laying out their clothes in the order in which each item is put on, but urge your loved one to dress independently.
- Planned activities: Include your loved one in your daily activities, such as making dinner together, gardening or listening to music. Physical activities like going for a walk can be especially helpful for reducing wandering and agitation while allowing you and your loved one to spend time together.
- Living environment: During middle-stage Alzheimer’s, being left alone eventually becomes unsafe and dangerous. If your loved one lives alone, they will need to move in with relatives or a residential care facility.
- Driving: When it is clear that your loved one should no longer be driving, discuss the decision to stop with them. Explain your concerns using specific examples. Assure them that you will do everything possible to make rides available when needed.
The type and extent of caregiver support needed is unique from one stage of the disease to the next. Learn about caring for your loved one with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Find additional caregiver resources, including support groups and event information, CARE T.I.P.S to learn strategies for various scenarios and financial and legal planning information.