Getting out and about is one of the challenges caregivers face with their loved ones. Isolation is a close, but unwelcome friend for both caregivers and their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
In the disease’s early stages, people may not experience a significant change in behavior, and peers probably won’t recognize any difference in demeanor. In terms of going here and there, it’s likely very little has changed. But as time progresses, running errands becomes difficult. Not only is it harder to get to where you want to go, but also to where you need to go.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, along with other duties, includes short jaunts for errands. Safety concerns prevent carers from leaving loved ones unattended, so the only alternative may be to bring them along.
For someone in the early stages of the disease, the process is fairly easy. Simple instructions are more easily understood, and the person being cared for hasn’t lost the ability to accomplish tasks by themselves. They usually don’t need assistance in the bathroom and are able to socially interact.
Conflicts associated with ferrying loved ones on errands increase as the disease takes hold. The thought process that goes into even short outings is astounding, reminiscent of early parenthood.
Caregivers think ahead, instinctively planning for worst-case scenarios that could manifest while they’re out. Scheduling strategically, days can’t be too full, but the more proverbial birds killed in a day, the better.
Mundane errands, like running to the grocery store, picking up meds at the pharmacy, or shopping for shoes are easily taken for granted in good health. But even climbing in and out of a car can be problematic for someone with dementia and their caregivers. Imagine helping someone in and out of a car when they’ve forgotten how to straighten themselves up in a sitting position or don’t have the core strength to do so.
A healthy person walks into an appointment from the parking lot while the driver searches for a spot. They don’t get lost or confused, or wonder where their caregiver has disappeared to.
Caregivers are thankful for parking spots they prayed would materialize on the way, and are relieved to escort their loved one into the building without incident.
Caregivers have more choices today than they did a few years ago. Running errands was just as difficult back in the day as it is now, but today’s caregivers have the option of calling it in. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants deliver now, and many offer curbside pickup. You can even buy pre-prepped meals to cook at home.
Delivery service is a premium. A few examples of what is available to caregivers are listed below, but a quick Google search will provide many more options for saving time and effort:
Medical science is catching up to meeting patients halfway, too. Lab work must be done in a doctor’s office or at an approved lab, but some doctors are reading the tests, determining results, and conducting physical exams via telemedicine. This is a wonderful option for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
Getting out is still worth it
You might sometimes wonder if getting out and about is worth it.
Given the trouble it takes to pack up your loved one, search for parking spots, and see that they come home the same way they left — safe and sound — is it worth it? Is it worth explaining over and over again, even on fun trips, where you’re going, whom you’re going to see, why you’re going, and when you’ll get back?
Questions from an Alzheimer’s patient are on continuous loop. They’ll often forget an answer by the time you end the sentence. Getting them out of the four walls and the confines of home — is it worth the trouble? Yes, it is.
Eventually, it will become impossible, but while it is still possible, take an occasional ride, even if it’s just around the block to the neighborhood coffee drive-thru. It’ll be like Christmas for your loved one.
It is difficult and challenging, but if you can make it happen once in a while and live in the moment, in the seconds before the memory fleets away, then it’s good for them and you, too. Your loved one may not remember the outing the next day, or even a half-hour later when you pull into the driveway, but the change of pace will make them happy then and there.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.
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