Understanding the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease

The beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease marks a distinct time in your loved one's life, and can pose significant changes for the entire family. According to the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, this early stage is also known as mild Alzheimer's disease. It may be a confusing time for all involved, as the change in your loved one's lifestyle may only be slight at first, and therefore no one may connect differences in behaviour or memory to the onset of the disease.

Over time, you may notice a number of common symptoms occurring, such as:

  • Consistent forgetfulness
  • Difficulty following conversation
  • Complications in learning new things
  • A shortened attention span
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty making decisions

If your loved one has been diagnosed
If your aging parent or family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to be aware of the emotions you'll be going through. It can be overwhelming, frustrating and everything in between. One way to cope with this mix of feelings is to educate yourself. Helpguide recommends learning as much as you can about the disease and asking for help and advice from others, including your loved one's doctor and community resources like your local Alzheimer's Society chapter.

Your role as a caregiver
If you become a caregiver for a senior living with dementia, it's important to help your loved one through the physical and emotional struggles of managing Alzheimer's disease as much as you can. The Alzheimer's Association explains that your role is to provide support, love and compassion. Help your loved one plan for the future and ensure that you will be there for them every step of the way.

Tips for caring for someone living with Alzheimer's
A person living with early-stage Alzheimer's may need a lot of help throughout the day, depending on the severity of their symptoms. As a caregiver, it's important to take charge and assist your loved one with whatever they need help with, including:

  • Remembering words, places or names
  • Managing finances
  • Scheduling doctor's appointments
  • Keeping track of medications

"Be the strength and guidance your loved one needs."

Always make sure to be the strength and guidance your loved one needs for encouragement. Inspire them to stay as independent as possible for as long as they can. Help them get a daily routine going so that it becomes second nature. Encourage them to share their feelings and be supportive. And lastly, let them know that you'll always be there.

If your loved one is living with Alzheimer's disease, and you can no longer support their needs on your own, consider looking into the memory care options at Chartwell Retirement Residences. To learn more about their memory care program, including their new Memory Living Neighbourhoods, click here.