Today, more families are hiring professional in-home care to help keep their loved ones with dementia safe at home.
Whether the home is the person’s own house or apartment, the home of a family member, or a senior living community, In-home caregivers can do an incredible difference. They can help with medication management, provide transportation to medical appointments, and assist with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and incontinence care, always with the goal of preserving the senior’s dignity. They can prepare meals when it’s no longer safe for the client to use the stove. They provide supervision and encouragement to help clients remain physically active, which is important because exercise improves sleep and well-being. People with dementia continue to benefit from meaningful social interactions and tasks, and caregivers provide companionship and mental stimulation in a nonjudgmental manner.
Professional home caregivers partner with families to create an effective care plan that can evolve as the client’s needs change. The plan should support the health and well-being of family caregivers, allowing for respite that lets them take a break for their own needs. Home care also allows family members to continue their paid employment rather than quitting their job to care for their loved one. Studies show that many caregivers, especially women, leave the workforce at this time, which can have a negative effect on their own long-term financial situation.
It’s important to find an agency that provides special training on dementia care for their caregivers. An untrained caregiver can misinterpret the common behavior changes of dementia, reacting in a way that increases, rather than addresses, such behaviors as aggression, confusion, wandering or sleep disturbances. Experts know now that the way a caregiver interacts with a person with dementia makes all the difference in maintaining their well-being.
Planning is important. Learn about the resources that are available in your loved one’s community.
Today there are more long-term care facilities that specialize in caring for people with dementia. But research shows that most people with Alzheimer’s disease do best if they can stay in their own home as long as possible, in familiar surroundings. Often, a move to a facility results in rapid decline. If your family wants to help a loved one stay in their own home, or in the home of a family member, here are some questions to answer:
Is the home a good fit?
Basic senior safety and security factors become all the more important when a senior is living with cognitive impairment. Do the stairs have sturdy handrails? Are carpets secured so your loved one won’t trip on them? Are hazards removed that could cause a fall? Are guns securely locked up? If it’s no longer safe for your loved one to drive, are car keys kept out of sight? Is the hot water set at a temperature that would not cause burns?
How will the home need to change?
Certain adaptations can make a home a better fit for a person with memory loss, including safety knobs on stoves, special locks on doors, adding strips of contrasting color on stairs, and removing mirrors that might cause confusion. Find more practical suggestions from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging.
Who will care for our loved one?
This is the most important question of all. The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report illustrates that the strain of caregiving produces serious physical and mental health consequences. For instance, more than one out of three (35%) caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five (19%) caregivers for older people without dementia. Also, depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.
What resources are available to supplement the care our family can provide?
As early as possible, learn about what assistance is available for your loved one and for your family as they provide care. If you are ready to go to the next level, explore and evaluate agencies that not only train and develop their caregivers in dementia care but the ones that work on value-added in-home care approaches. Look for Agencies that have holistic approaches, that dedicates effort an resources in healthy cooking, exercise, medication reminders and identify the ones that can make the difference thru transformation to more healthy habits. This is something that might mark the difference between good and great.