Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare and Carris Health care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to helps us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Published in Wellness, Home Care, Hospice

Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. To help patients and their caregivers understand the changes that occur as the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s disease is broken into early, middle and late stages. The symptoms and progression within these stages vary from person to person.

Early Stage

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble remembering recent events or the names of familiar people or things. They may not be able to handle their finances and tend to lose things and withdraw from social situations.

“Many express a desire to stay in their own homes as long as possible,” says Lynn Buckley, LPN, Caring Connection coordinator at Redwood Area Hospital. “This is an excellent time for Alzheimer’s patients to begin using the Caring Connection day services. Coming even one day a week can help establish familiarity with our setting and services. Later on, being in familiar surroundings will become increasingly important.”

Caregiving in this stage focuses on adjusting to the diagnosis and making plans for the future. Learning as much as possible about Alzheimer’s will make caregiving easier.

Middle Stage

Middle stage Alzheimer’s patients may forget how to do simple tasks like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They begin to have problems speaking, understanding, reading or writing. They may not recognize family and friends at times. Anger, paranoia, wandering, violence, eating problems, hallucinations and incontinence may occur.

The caregiver’s role expands to full time, as patients in this stage require care or 24-hour supervision. “Caregivers need to take care of themselves,” Buckley notes. “Studies have shown that the caregiver’s condition can deteriorate more quickly than the patient’s. Using the day health program even half a day a week to take a break from the stresses of caregiving can be immensely beneficial.”

Caregiving can become all-consuming as the disease progresses. Grief, depression, and anger are common feelings that caregivers experience. Caregiving can take a heavy toll without adequate support.

Persons with dementia typically enjoy the opportunity to be with others in a place where their needs and abilities are understood. “Attendance at Caring Connection allows the patient to be in a comfortable setting with others who understand them while giving the caregiver a temporary break from caregiving responsibilities to stay in touch with friends or keep up with a hobby,” Buckley notes.

Severe Stage

Patients may lose the ability to communicate, walk, smile, swallow or participate in personal care activities. They may be unable to recognize people, places and objects. Seizures and weight loss may occur, and patients may spend the majority of time sleeping.

Patients in this stage may benefit from the addition of services, such as Hospice, in addition to the adult day health program.

“Alzheimer’s disease progression varies for each person as does their care needs,” Buckley explains. “Some participants may only require assistance with a single task such as bathing, while others require a more intensive plan in order to remain in their home.”

Help Is Available

Caring Connection at Redwood Area Hospital provides expert day services Monday through Friday for adults with chronic care issues who wish to remain in their homes.