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Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care at Home
When you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it may feel impossible to decide: Should I care for my loved one with Alzheimer’s myself? Should I get some help with Alzheimer’s care at home? Should I take my loved one with dementia to a nursing home or assisted living facility?
Here’s what you need to know about Alzheimer’s care at home to help you decide whether that’s a good option for you and your loved one.
Can a Person with Alzheimer's or Dementia Live at Home?
Yes. With the right supportive care, many people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can age in place and live at home. According to the Alzheimer’s Association :
“Many people with Alzheimer's continue to live successfully on their own during the early stage of the disease…[You should] arrange for someone to help you with housekeeping, meals, transportation, and daily chores.”
What Is Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care at Home?
Alzheimer’s & Dementia care at home is a collection of services that help people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of cognitive decline age in place rather than going to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Home care for dementia patients may include anything from companionship to housekeeping to assistance with activities of daily living all the way to skilled nursing and around-the-clock care.
What Types of Services Are Included with Alzheimer’s Care at Home?
Dementia care at home may include:
- Wandering prevention
- Medication reminders
- Light housekeeping
- Managing moments of confusion, anger, or anxiety
- Meal planning and preparation
- Transportation to appointments
- Assistance with dressing and grooming
- Help with toileting and bathing
- Transfer and mobility assistance
- Grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
- Companionship and monitoring
While your primary concern might be preventing your loved one from wandering away when you aren’t with them, companionship is also extremely important for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention :
“Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity...Poor social relationships…[were] associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke...Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.”
How Do You Care for an Alzheimer's Patient at Home?
Caring for a person with dementia at home involves preventing the patient from wandering off, ensuring their basic needs are taken care of, helping them with activities of daily living, making sure they take medication and get to doctor appointments on time, and overall ensuring the patient has a high quality of life while staying in a familiar home for as long as possible.
How Long Can a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease Live at Home?
With the right type and amount of care, a person with Alzheimer’s may be able to live the rest of their lives at home. Alzheimer’s care at home can grow to accommodate a dementia patient’s changing needs, up to and including around-the-clock care.
It’s natural to want to care for your loved one all by yourself, but it is physically and emotionally demanding - it’s OK to ask for help.
How Do I Know if My Loved One Needs Dementia Care at Home?
Many signs may indicate when your loved one needs Alzheimer’s care at home. If you have noticed or experienced any of the following, your loved one may need more care than you can provide.
They Can’t Complete Tasks of Daily Living
If your loved one isn’t taking care of themselves as well as they used to, they may need memory care at home. Look for signs like:
- Body odor
- Dramatic change in grooming habits
- Incontinence, frequent trips to the bathroom, or failing to go to the bathroom at all
- Unexplained weight loss
- Foul-smelling home
- Very bad breath or dental problems
- Appearing overwhelmed by daily activities
They Start Making Dangerous Decisions
Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia take away a person’s critical thinking skills, putting them at risk of being taken advantage of, injuring themselves, wandering away from home, or even accidental death. Warning signs include:
- Bad short-term memory such as forgetting to turn off the stove or lock the doors.
- Frequent wandering, being confused about where they are, or failing to answer the phone.
- Poor judgment such as allowing strangers into their home or giving away all their money.
- Not understanding how household objects work, like what to do if the smoke detector goes off or how to call for help.
- Dangerous driving, even after they’ve been told to stop driving.
- Unusual or dangerous behavior like shoplifting or engaging is sexually inappropriate behavior.
You Are Experiencing Caregiver Burnout
It’s natural to want to care for your loved one all by yourself, but it is physically and emotionally demanding. If you’re experiencing burnout, you can’t care for your loved one as well. You may also feel guilty for being burned out, leading to more burnout. It’s OK to ask for help caring for your loved one.
Their Health Is Declining
If your loved one isn’t caring for themselves the way they used to, they may show signs like:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Taking too much or too little of their medications
- Inexplicable bruises, breaks, or other injuries
- Lack of food in the kitchen
- Sunken or hunched posture
- Neglected personal hygiene
Your Instincts Say They Need it
Trust your gut. If you think your loved one needs Alzheimer’s care at home, they probably do. Plus, it’s better for your loved one with dementia to have too much help rather than not enough.
What Should I Look for When Hiring a Home Care Agency for Alzheimer’s or Dementia Care at Home?
With their oversight, insurance, and varied staff to have a backup in case of emergencies, home care agencies are often the best place to get Alzheimer’s care at home. Here are some questions to ask as you look at different options :
- Do you do thorough background checks?
- What is the turnover rate for your caregivers?
- Can we interview potential caregivers?
- Are your caregivers screened for contagious diseases?
- Will we have the same caregiver for each visit?
- How does the agency handle conflict, such as if I have a complaint about a caregiver?
- Can I have references for your agency and the caregiver we get?
- How do you supervise caregivers?
If you need help finding the perfect Alzheimer’s care at home, contact us today.
- If You Live Alone, Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/know-what-to-expect/if_you_live_alone
- Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html
- Help With in-Home Care for Someone With Alzheimer’s, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/alzheimers-paid-home-care
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