Caring for an aging parent is difficult. When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimers it becomes even tougher. As the disease progresses, your parent may no longer recognize you. They become sullen and irritable and some even become violent.
For the caregiver it is important to reach out and find a support netowrk. Look for family and friends who can come over and give you a break. If there are siblings, sit down and discuss a care schedule to allow the main caregiver adequate rest to avoid burnout. Depending on where you live, there may also be communitly programs available to caregivers. Here in Ontario we have the CCAC (Community Care and Access Centre) Through the centre, caregivers can receiv, e free of charge, homecare workers who provide much neede "respite care". How much care you are entitled to depends on many factors. As the disease progresses the Home Care workers will take over the task of bathing your loved one for you. Many communities also offer a senior Day Care facility where you can drop your love one off for the day, giving you a much needed break. This service does cost money though, around here it is about $20 per day for 9:30am - 2:30pm.
It is recommended that the caregiver begin researching homes sooner rather than later. Decide before hand what you are willing to deal with and how much you can handle. Many caregivers find the sundowning difficult to deal with, others decide that they don't want to deal with incontinence that often accompanies advanced alzheimers. The decision to put a parent into a nursing home is a very difficult one that no one takes lightly. Please keep in mind that alzheimers is very unpredictible and some individuals decline rapidly. The more prepared you are the easier the transition will be. If you've done your research, chosen your top 3 homes and reach a point where you simply cannot do it anymore, Your parent will receive the first available bed in a nursing home. It may not be the home of your choice, but they will be well cared for and as soon as a spot in one of your top 3 homes opens up they will be transferred.
Do not feel obligated to care for your parent until the end. Do as much as you can, reach out for help and support, and know your limits. You need to take care of yourself too.