Providing home care for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. The mental, as well as the physical needs of the senior, must be considered in such situations.
Many individuals who care for loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s go through emotional upheaval themselves. Some family members and caregivers are able to keep up with such challenges, while others can’t. The heavy burden of responsibility and weariness, as well as guilt, often collide for caregivers. While many family members struggle with feelings of guilt for even considering placing a loved one in a care facility, many are physically and emotionally incapable of taking care of a loved one who requires constant supervision and care.
Until then, home-based caregivers need to focus on education and safety for their loved one.
Understand the Importance of Education
It’s important for caregivers of those suspected of or diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia to educate themselves regarding the condition. Understanding the changes that will take place and coping with the heartbreak that such situations can cause is vital in offering quality, compassion-based care.
There are many resources available to you as you navigate the caregiving journey, and The Alzheimer’s Caregiver is a great place to start. It’s a free, research-backed program that’s designed to help you provide the best possible care at home and at every stage of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is an incurable condition that will gradually destroy a person’s ability to things for themselves. During the later stages of the disease, physical function breaks down, requiring near constant care when it comes to feeding and toileting. Eventually, an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may need respiratory assistance and full-time care, at which time many family members opt to place the individual in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Still, others keep their loved ones at home until the end. Again, this is a very personal decision that takes a great deal of thought and discussion among family members.
Focus on Safety
When caring for a senior diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia at home, safety is imperative. Several guidelines may help home-based caregivers offer high-quality and secure care. These guidelines include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Have the senior wear an identification bracelet imprinted with their name, address, and phone number in the event they wander away from home and become lost. This also helps police determine identity. Keep a recent photograph and a piece of the senior’s clothing in a bag in the event that search dogs must be employed to help find the individual.
- Sign the senior up with the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program. This is a national program that helps local authorities and individual’s search for missing or lost Alzheimer’s patients.
- Depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, place locks on doors to the outside, the garage, or work shed environments. Locks can be placed very high or very low on doors, where those with Alzheimer’s generally won’t look. You can also equip doors with bells so that caregivers can know when those doors are opened.
- Set thermostats for water heaters to 120° F. To prevent scalds or burns, label hot and cold water faucets with large letters that are easy to see and read.
- Keep an up-to-date list of emergency and family contact phone numbers on hand, and make sure everyone in the household knows where to find it.
- Install hand or grab rails in the bathroom to help prevent slips or falls.
- Install childproof latches or locks on bathroom cabinets or drawers containing medications, sharp objects, knives, etc. in the kitchen and bathroom area.
- When possible, remove inside door locks from bathrooms and bedrooms so that the individual doesn’t accidentally lock themselves in.
- Don’t allow seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia to smoke unattended.
- Depending on the stage of dementia, caregivers may need to remove stove knobs, unplug appliances, or remove them entirely for safety reasons.
These are just a few of the considerations that home-based caregivers need to consider when caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient. For those no longer able to provide safe and adequate care for their loved ones, contact a local nursing home or skilled care facilities regarding possible placement of individuals in their Alzheimer’s units for their ultimate safety and care.
For more information, visit The Alzheimer’s Caregiver hub, which is packed with tips to help you keep your loved one safe, navigate behavior challenges, and prepare for long-term care.