How to successfully care for your aging parent with dementia
Caring for someone with dementia is a challenging task that often falls on the shoulders of family members and friends. However, this responsibility can lead to burnout, health problems, and financial strains. In order to provide the best care possible, it is important to understand and accept the dementia diagnosis, equip your home with assistive devices, and prioritize self-care.
One of the first steps in dementia care is accepting the diagnosis and seeking help from dementia support organizations. These organizations offer resources, support groups, and connections to practitioners and information. It is crucial to remember that individuals with dementia can still have a good quality of life.
Making simple modifications to your home can greatly enhance safety and prevent accidents. Installing grab bars, securing carpets to prevent falls, and locking away dangerous items are all effective measures. Research shows that 90% of patient needs in those with dementia are related to home safety.
Caring for a Loved One with Dementia at Home
Taking care of a loved one with dementia can feel like a full-time job, which is why self-care is essential. Caregivers should schedule regular breaks and engage in activities that recharge and refresh them. Seeking assistance from family members or exploring respite care options can provide much-needed support.
Connecting with a dementia care coordinator can be immensely helpful in navigating the complexities of home care. These coordinators can assist with safety concerns, medical attention, medication management, and nutrition support. By addressing needs and improving the home environment, the goal is to keep loved ones at home with the highest quality of life.
By following these tips and utilizing available resources, you can ensure the safety and happiness of your loved ones with dementia in the comfort of home.
It has been projected that of the 35 million adults 65 years of age and older in the United States… there will be at least 140,000 older adults diagnosed with some form of cognitive impairment. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.
Diagnosed with Dementia What Do I do Now?
For many family members, it is a hard realization the parent who once cared for us, now has a dementia diagnosis. Conflicting emotions take over. Caregivers worry about their caregiving skills when providing dementia care. While worrying if they will develop Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. Many families allow one person to provide dementia care. Many family caregivers start their caregiving journey unprepared.
Dementia is used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses… in which brain cells shrink or disappear. It dementia progresses memory loss, decision making process, communication skills and the ability to learn and make judgments is impacted.
Every Case of Dementia is Different Because it Affects Different Parts of the Brain
As the disease affects different areas of the brain. The regions of the brain are responsible for different functions and abilities. People with dementia lose their abilities depending on the region of the brain that is being affected.
Each individual is uniquely affected and at widely varying rates of progression. As a result, there must be an individualized approach to the care of each individual.
There is no cure for dementia at this time.
And it is currently not possible to restore brain cells affected by the disease. There is support to help caregivers cope with the challenges they face along their caregiving journey. A person with dementia can still experience love, joy and sadness. Effective and individualized dementia care combined with emotional support can improve the quality of the life of a person with dementia.
Aging In Place includes Home Safety
Caring for Dementia at Home Ensure Safety
Many aging adults and family members want to age in their home. They want to remain in familiar environment, as long as possible. The benefits of remaining in familiar surroundings has been shown to allow the aging adult to enjoy a better quality of life. Many family members want to avoid admission to an institutional setting, like a nursing homes.
Caring for someone with dementia disease can be difficult and challenging. It can also be rewarding. When caring for a family member at home, there are some things to keep in mind that can make the process easier.
Taking the First Steps - Getting Organized
The first step in this process is planning for the road ahead on your caregiving journey. It's important to involve your parents in as many aspects of the planning as possible. Early in the disease process, as communication easier.
Family members want to be able to work together to get organized. You want to make sure that the person with dementia knows you are concerned for their well being.
Getting the Paperwork in Order
Address issues, such as durable power of attorney for health and finances. It is also important to put an Advanced Directive in place now.
- Five Wishes is a form of an Advanced Directive that is easy to use and a comprehensive approach to … addressing end of life issues. This helps the person with dementia to make important health care decisions, before they are no longer able to communicate their wishes. Getting an advanced directive in place, will make life easier for the family caregiver because they will know what to advocate for in the late stage of dementia,
- Identify where the important legal and financial documents are stored.
- Identify their professional advisors.
- Review medical/health insurance and long term care policies. Be prepared should a crisis occur. In the middle stages of dementia,
- If your parent is uncommunicative, consult a legal or financial professional on your own to learn your options.
- Assess the home environment. Make the necessary changes to the home as the disease progresses. Safety is the ultimate concern. You may have to curtail activities that pose a safety risk… such as cooking, driving, operating machinery.
- Educate yourself about resources in the community. Talk to professionals early on, to learn what options are available.
Local resources include:
- In-home support
- Adult day care
- Home visiting physicians
- Home visiting podiatrist
- Behavioral specialists that are available in your area.
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Do not hesitate to ask for help- Build a Care Team Partner Support Group
The Importance of Building a Care Team: Enhance Your Support System
Reducing stress and feelings of overwhelm is crucial when facing a disease. By developing a network of helpers, you can lead a more productive and engaged life during the early stages.
Instead of relying on emergency assistance, creating a well-thought-out plan for tasks that require help is more effective. This plan will provide you and your helpers with the confidence that assistance will be available when needed.
Who Should Be on Your Care Team Partner Support Group?
Your care team includes family, friends, neighbors, professionals, and your community. Start by identifying a trusted decision-maker, often a family member or close friend. Discuss your long-term priorities and the type of help you may need. Expand your team by adding other helpers.
Your care team partners should consist of:
Family members, whether they live with you or are far away
Close friends who offer support
Neighbors or individuals who can assist with daily tasks
Medical professionals, such as your general practitioner, neurologist, counselor, or specialist
Volunteers from community organizations, church members, or social groups
You are at the core of your care team, surrounded by those closest to you. As you share your diagnosis with others, your inner circle will grow, and you'll also form relationships with medical professionals and community resources. The How to Be a Patient Care Advocate for Your Family Member will teach you how to build your care team.
Tips to Develop Your Care Team:
Identify friends, family, and neighbors who may be willing to help.
Discuss the assistance you need and have individual conversations with potential helpers.
Clearly state the specific help you require, both currently and in the future.
Consider engaging in activities together, such as shopping or meal preparation.
Seek individuals who are compassionate and good listeners when asking for help. Avoid those who may be judgmental or critical.
If someone is unable to help, remember that it's not your fault. It's likely due to their personal circumstances.
Express gratitude and say thank you to your helpers. Appreciation increases the likelihood of future assistance.
Building a care team is essential for navigating your health journey. Establish a strong support system to enhance your well-being and lead a fulfilling life.
Bring in a professional… such as a care manager or elder care consultant. They can assist you maneuver the health care delivery system and coordinating care.
One of the most important things to remember is to be patient and understanding. Those with dementia can have difficulty communicating. So you will have to speak slowly. Use a reassuring tone.
- The will forget how to preform everyday tasks. Some will become confused easily as they lose their short term memory.
It’s important to take things one step at a time, and not overwhelm them.Take a short break between directions. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions Being patient and providing reassurance can help make the daily routine run smoother. You may have to use a few assistive devices to support your loved one as they decline.
Our Resources section can help you find the information and tools that you need. We have courses, videos, checklists, guidebooks, cheat sheets, how-to guides and more.
You can get started by clicking on the link below. We know that taking care of a loved one is hard work, but with our help you can get the support that you need.
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Another important factor to consider when caring for someone with dementia is maintaining the family member's independence. It’s important to engage them and encourage them to do activities they can still do on their own, such as light exercise or reading. This will help provide a sense of normalcy and reduce feelings of helplessness.
How to Handle Troubling Dementia Behaviors
If you are making the decision to care for your aging loved one with dementia care at home… there are books and classes on how to approach the aging adult to help you when they exhibit behaviors such as agitation, hoarding and disrobing.
They will also teach you how to respond to those behaviors or even prevent such behaviors. Dementia care education includes teaching coping strategies and problem-solving skills to other family members, friends, and/or caregivers. This can help them deal more effectively with the aging adult with dementia.
Take the time to receive individualized, specific education and training… on how to understand and manage disruptive and depressive behaviors before they occur. This can decrease the stress level of the caregiver.
Join support groups
There are a variety of different support groups at work, or through a local hospital, or on the Internet. Even listening can be enlightening and comforting.
Use the Internet to educate yourself about a particular condition or disease. Network with professionals and other caregivers on-line. Investigate online skill training. With outside support and understanding, the situation is can be greatly improved. And can allow for a better quality of life for everyone involved.
Include Self Management of Stress for the Caregivers
There are some significant steps needed to ease the stress on caregivers as well. One large part is to make sure that all siblings and family members are getting involved. They may not realize how much work is actually required and must be reminded that their help is needed.
If other siblings live far away… they can still participate in other ways. Ask for help… financially or support through phone calls, giving you breaks for vacations or weekends.
It is crucial for the caregiver to not feel alone. Or as if there is no one to fall back on.
It is important for the caregiver to take care of themselves… physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Utilizing local services, such as:
- Adult day care
- Family counseling or individual counseling
- Local support groups or a disease specific support group
- In home care services can empower the caregiver to maintain a positive attitude. In hoe care can allow a family caregiver lead a healthier life and maintain social contacts to avoid… isolation and decrease stress.
Caregiving starts our intermittently. It will be an unpredictable caregiving journey. When caring for someone with dementia you will have to research the disease process. Because there are many different types of dementia, the early stages of dementia vary depending on the type of dementia. A person with Alzheimer's disease will have different symptoms than a person with Frontotemporal dementia or other related dementia.
In the early stages of dementia can you slow the progression of dementia and improve brain health. Research suggests that family caregivers should also focus on ways to improve brain health in their family member. A balanced diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction are all known to benefit people living with dementia. Engaging in activities such as light exercise or reading can help prevent further decline and improve brain health which will help family members maintain as much independence as possible for longer periods of time.
Finally, family caregivers should not forget to take care of themselves too. Caring for someone with dementia can be very physically and emotionally draining, so it’s important to prioritize self-care and look into respite services if needed. Taking breaks from caregiving is necessary in order to provide the best possible support for your family member with dementia.
Aging in place with a family member with dementia can be both rewarding and challenging. With patience, understanding, improved brain health, and prioritizing family member independence, family caregivers can make the process easier while ensuring their family members are safe and comfortable. By communicating openly with family members and being mindful of safety concerns, family caregivers can provide quality care for their elderly loved ones at home.
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