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The medication used to treat Alzheimer’s can only help control some of the symptoms. There is no cure. Confusion and memory loss will continue to worsen over time, so those affected will eventually need help to live their everyday lives. A caregiver, whether a professional one or a family member, will play a unique role in this vulnerable time.
This blog will take you through the day of a caregiver, explained from the point of a daughter caring for her mother. Nearly 15 million Americans provide care unpaid to a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia causing disease. This is one of their stories.
In the morning, I wake at 6 am and get myself ready. I know it’s early, and I’d LOVE to sleep in some days, but if I don’t wake up before she does, something terrible can happen. Once, I forgot to set my alarm, and she got up before me and ended up falling somehow.
Once I am up, I get the coffee going, and then I get her medications and instructions ready to go too. I get her cleaned up and changed, then into the kitchen we go for breakfast and meds. After that, if it is nice outside (and she is up to it), we will take a short walk outdoors. I try to get her to move at least a few minutes each day, but her mobility is getting worse, so we do what we can.
Mom prefers to sit and watch TV most of the day. I tried to get her to take up something more active, but with her mobility deteriorating, even a trip to the doctor is challenging. I fix her and I lunch and we eat. She stopped cooking a while back when she couldn’t remember the recipes, then would forget food on the stove cooking, or leave burners on. We did a medical power of attorney a while ago, so I could make appointments, pay her bills, and so on.
This is the part of the day I make any calls I need to and clean up. Some days, she naps in the afternoon, but if I keep checking in on her to make sure she’s not into anything, or has hurt herself, I can get things done. I prepare dinner, change sheets and do other chores as needed if we don’t have any appointments. I also try to incorporate some mental exercises, so we play a card game or she does her favorite crossword (even though I must help her with most of it). Personal care is taken care of throughout the day.
The evenings can be hard. Often, confusion and agitation are setting in, especially in moments of fleeting memories. We eat dinner, then take her second set of meds. If she can, we have more time outside, usually sitting on the porch. She watches more TV while I clean up, and then we do her bath, then bed.
No two days are the same, but as my mom cared for me so many years ago, I do for her now. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, clinical trials may be an option. Clinical trials help advance prevention and treatment opportunities for Alzheimer’s and many other conditions. To learn more about our enrolling Alzheimer’s studies, click here.
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