Providing home care for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. Some family members and caregivers are able to keep up with such challenges, while others can’t.
The mental, as well as the physical needs of the senior, must be considered in such situations. 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.
Education and Acknowledgement
It’s important for caregivers of those suspected or diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia to educate themselves regarding the condition. That knowledge regarding changes taking place in a loved one and dealing with the heartbreak and grief that such situations cause is important in offering quality and compassionate-based care.
Many individuals who care for loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may go through emotional upheaval themselves. The heavy burden of responsibility and weariness, as well as guilt, often collide for caregivers.
Alzheimer’s is an incurable condition that will gradually destroy a senior’s ability to do for themselves. During the later stages of the disease process, 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 fulltime 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 in a home-based environment, safety is imperative. Several guidelines may help home-based caregivers offer quality and secure care. Such guidelines may include but are 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 nationally based program that helps local authorities an 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 workshed 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. Label hot and cold water faucets with large and easy to see and read letters to help prevent scalds and burns.
- Place a list of emergency and family contact phone numbers directly beside or above a phone.
- 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, and so forth in the kitchen and bathroom area.
- When possible, remove inside door locks from bathrooms and bedrooms so that the individual doesn’t accidentally lock herself 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.