1. Should the Person Stop Driving?
The Alzheimer’s Association lists five primary reasons people with Alzheimer’s should stop driving
- Forgetting how to locate familiar places
- Failing to observe traffic signs
- Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
- Driving at an inappropriate speed
- Becoming angry or confused while driving
I would add two obvious items to this list: Causing an accident or running into another car while parking.
When loved ones exhibit one or more of these it’s time to get them to stop driving. This will be one of the most difficult actions you will ever have to take.
2. Should the Person Be Placed in a Long-Term Care Facility?
Alzheimer’s patients in the later stages require around the clock care and monitoring, which is exhausting to the caregiver. You can’t be there for your loved one and provide high quality of care if you are physically worn out and emotionally spent all the time.
So when you reach the point where you’re physically exhausted and emotionally drained the majority of the time, stop and at least give some serious consideration to placing your loved on in a high-quality long-term care facility. It might be by far the most loving course of action, and the best course of action, for the health and well-being of your loved one.
3. Is It Okay to Stop Visiting When the Person Doesn’t Recognize You Anymore?
Some people think that there’s no reason to visit a loved one in a nursing home who no longer recognizes them, but others are firmly convinced that you should visit anyway. First of all people with Alzheimer’s may enjoy being visited even if they don’t quite know who is visiting them. More importantly, it’s possible that the person does recognize you but simply isn’t able to say so.
4. Is It Okay to Divorce Your Spouse in the Later Stages of the Disease?
This is indeed a very personal decision to make and one should be bound by his or her personal ethics.
5. Is It Time to Engage Hospice Care Services?
Specific signs that indicate hospice care may be needed include the following
- Two or more episodes of pneumonia or other serious infections during the previous six months
- Difficulty eating and swallowing, even with feeding help, that results in weight loss (10% weight loss over previous six months)
- One or more skin pressure ulcers that are not healing.
One day I spoke to a physician specialized in end-of-life care. He answered all of my questions about hospice. Then he looked to me the real question for the caregiver is “How can I help this person have the highest quality of life possible in the time that’s remaining?”