Stage 5 Alzheimer’s Disease-Caregiver Response

April 1, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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Today is the third day that I’ve discussed the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  People are very different and they all start from different “norms.”  For example, I have an excellent memory for phone numbers.  Someone else may have never been good at remembering numbers, so our norm from the beginning would be different.  That said, there are still benchmarks and tell tale signs that would signal the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

As stated previously, my goal is to give you the characteristics of each stage AND to let you know how you as a caregiver can respond to the things going on in that particular stage.

Stage 5

You will go from providing some assistance in daily activities to more sustained and consistent assistance.  For example, in stage 4 you may have started helping with finances and meal preparation. 

In this stage, stage 5, you will find that your loved one needs help with most daily activities.  For example, grandma may still know how to put her clothes on, but she may forget to take her pajamas off before she gets dressed.  She may put her bra on over her sweater or put her nightgown on OVER her clothes. It’s probably not safe for her to cook because she may put something inappropriate into the microwave or turn on the stove and forget it’s on.  There is also potential for a severe burn as she may not recall that the pot handle is hot.  She may not remember that she just poured boiling water into a cup and therefore attempt to drink it before it is at the correct temperature.  She spends much more time in the past than she does in the present, although she probably remembers close family and friends (most of the time). With regards to time and space, she may forget where she is, the date, time and or season.

Caregiver Response

At this stage, you will become much more involved in day to day care.  Your loved one will need help getting dressed properly and preparing meals.  If your loved one lives alone, you’ll have to consider moving her in with someone who can provide round the clock supervision because wandering and safety will become more and more of a concern.  If you haven’t already, you should consider adult day care programs and senior center activities.  These day programs will keep your loved one’s body and mind active, while providing appropriate supervision.  My mom attended adult day care for a few years. Transportation was provided and it was safe for her and provided an opportunity for me to run errands, work, care for my young son, take care of household duties and get ready for her return in the evening.

You should start to think seriously about the future.  As caregiving requires more time, will you bring in outside help? Consider an Alzheimer’s Care facility? Rally friends and family?

NOTE:  If you haven’t already gotten durable Power of Attorney (POA), it may be too late.  If your loved one can still be logical and make some decisions, you need to handle this matter RIGHT NOW.  Stage 6 will be too late for sure. There are other options, but they are more time consuming, more costly and much more involved than just getting the Power of Attorney.

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14 Responses to “Stage 5 Alzheimer’s Disease-Caregiver Response”
  1. Alex says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. AlexM says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  3. Hey Audrey, thanks so much for checking in. I always hoped (and prayed) that my experience as a caregiver would ultimately have a larger purpose. This is such a wonderful way to support caregivers and do what I love at the same time. Do you know any caregivers or anyone with Alzheimer’s disease? If not, consider yourself blessed, if you do, please send them our way. Thanks again for stopping by!

  4. Audrey Norman Jones says:

    Just “met” this blog today, but I’ve read several of your articles in The Review and also Message. My father forwarded the link for this site – I’m thankful. Your personal experience as a caregiver can add a different perspective than that of someone who is just knowledgeable about the disease.

  5. You can most definitely pass that along. I am very happy to help and share this site and series of posts. I think what you are doing is wonderful and needed.

  6. I definitely understand wanting to cancel Christmas. My mom died December 2nd and it was really hard to get in the swing of the holidays. I absolutely love the idea of the forget me not flower, if you don’t mind, I’ll pass that idea along when I talk about honoring loved ones. My husband and I lit candles in honor of his grandmother and my dad at our wedding. Those rituals and remembrances are so important.

    Will also search around and work on a list of questions, etc. I had my personal evaluation form for a long-term care facility, but it took me a “minute” to realize that I still needed to supplement what they were doing. And like you said, Rebecca, a warm body just wasn’t good enough.

    My goal with this series of posts is to help people understand not just the facts, but how those facts will ultimately impact them as caregivers. I so appreciate your feedback. I too found the Alzheimer’s Association to be very helpful. Wonderful people!

    In terms of what you can do….You can tell others about this site and what’s going on here. You can also continue to check back from time to time AND (see you didn’t think I’d have “to do” list for you) drop me a note once in a while to let me know if I’m on track or if there is anything I can post that would be of help. Thanks Again!

  7. Hi Loretta,

    It is definitely difficult over the holidays. We on one hand wanted to cancel Christmas entirely, as the funeral was Christmas Eve morning, but on the other, we knew it was her favourite time of year and would want us to enjoy it. We’d had a vacation scheduled jut after the New Year and I think that was what allowed us to heal. You never really do, as you miss them a lot. But for us, we’re doing something at our wedding this summer, as our giveway, a seed packet with the Forget-Me-Not flower in it, as our own little token and reminder that she’s always with us.

    I think for us understanding that the long-term care facility she was in, wasn’t the only solution and understanding that they even needed help. Learning about additional options, such as care givers who can supplement the care she was getting was something we figured out a little too late. We spent a lot of time researching agencies and asking a lot of questions, as we learned, not a lot of people specialize in Alzheimer’s care (at least in Ontario) and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just “anyone” we had help, but people who understood the disease and knew what she needed when.

    I think a list of questions and a way to review agencies/care providers would be a great help to those struggling.

    We spent a lot of time reading and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s society in Ontario was helpful to a point, but just having someone to talk to who understood what was coming next and could help us anticipate needs would have also been very helpful. We were lucky that we had family in another province who had been through this and they were a great source of comfort and advice to us as well.

    Loretta, if there’s anything I can do to help your readers out or anyone in Canada, be sure and let me know.

  8. Thanks Rebecca, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the toughest for sure and death over the holidays makes it even harder. When you say, “over the holidays,” it seems so long ago on one hand. Yet, I am well aware of the fact that in “grief time” that is just a moment ago. A couple questions for you. What info do you wish you had as the disease progressed? And what is it that would be of help to you and the family now? Soon, I’ll be doing some posts on stages of grief throughout the disease and how to go on after the death of a loved one. Please stop by from time to time and thanks for your comment.

  9. What a great blog. My fiance’s grandmother passed away over the holidays from this horrible disease after nearly 10 years fighting the good fight and boy do I wish I’d found this blog sooner.

    You raise such good points about the additional levels of care. Especially as love ones progress into the later stages, facilities aren’t enough and as we learned round the clock care is required in some way or another, even if it’s just to provide comfort and companionship.

    I learned so much about the disease and needs of patients during the last months of my grandmother-in-law’s life that you just don’t know or understand until you experience it first hand.

    Keep up the great work. We need more people like you out there helping people prepare for what comes next in this ugly disease.

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