In Part 1 of this post we discussed Many aspects of Dementia and Alzheimer's care at home including; Contemplating Dementia Home Care, Senior Safety for Dementia patients, How to create a comfortable environment for the special needs of someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and other important information for successful dementia and Alzheimer's care at home
Dementia Care and Communication
When caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, always speak gently, using short sentences comprised of simple words. Avoid yelling or becoming exasperated, even when repeated requests or conversations are necessary. Eliminate distractions, when possible. Remain positive and talk with, rather that at, the person. Avoid interrupting but provide help with forgotten words, when necessary.
Dementia Care Routines
For optimal success and comfort on a daily basis, routines are an important component of Alzheimer’s or dementia care. Although the details may not be remembered, the sameness of established routines is comforting. Based on individual preferences and needs, develop routines for dressing, bathing, meals, exercise, activities, outings and bedtime. In addition, have a plan for providing physical care that requires assistance with lifting or an increased level of physical strength. Plan to have a younger relative close at hand during these times, if possible.
Daily dressing should be made as simple as possible. Avoid buttons, zippers or laces and opt for elastic waistbands and Velcro closures instead. Allow clothing to be chosen from a limited number of items and lay the items out in logical order for dressing, assisting only as needed.
Reduce the stress of bathing or showering by having everything ready ahead of time and carefully explaining step-by-step exactly what is going on. For comfort and safety, use a bath or shower seat and non-slip tub mat. Install grab bars where needed. For added convenience, use a handheld showerhead. Always test the water temperature before use and never leave the room, even for just a minute.
Dementia Care Schedules
Sleeping and eating should occur on a regular schedule. A set bedtime and naptime, as appropriate, will help keep things running smoothly. Meals and snacks served at specific times helps to provide structure to the day. Keep in mind that several small meals are usually better than three large meals.
Exercise For Dementia Home Care
Adequate exercise is critical for the caregiver as well as the person to whom care is being provided. Creatively incorporate exercise into the daily routine whenever possible. Discover forms of exercise that are mutually enjoyable such as walking around the neighborhood, swimming or gardening.
Activities and outings present a special set of challenges. During any activity be alert for signs of impending frustration. Plan activities based on existing skills rather than attempting those requiring that new skills be learned. Schedule outings and appointments for the time of day when cooperation is most likely and take along a family member or friend, when possible.
Dealing with Hallucinations from dementia
People afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia may experience hallucinations or delusions. Should this occur, discuss the problem with the primary care physician as it may indicate physical illness. In the absence of physical illness, techniques to deal with hallucinations or delusions include distraction through a change topic or physical in location. Avoid arguing or attempts at reasoning, as these tactics will most likely lead to further agitation.
Considering Pets For Home Care Patients
Finally, consider whether a pet would be beneficial. Pets provide companionship and often have a calming effect. When selecting a pet, choose one with an appropriate disposition. An adult cat or calm lap dog is usually a good choice. Check the local animal shelter or humane society for assistance in adopting a pet that is already housebroken and displays the desired behaviors and character traits.
Home Caregiver Back-up and Respite Care
As a caregiver, it is imperative to have a backup plan, as there may be time when personally providing care is just not possible. Consider the impact that illness or injury could have on your ability to care for your loved one. Having a contingency plan for emergencies, illness or other unforeseen circumstances provides peace of mind and ensures continuity of care.
It is best to have at least one specific alternate person in place that knows the routines and can step in should the primary caregiver be unavailable. Identify various family and friends who may be called upon in the event of an emergency. In addition to providing hands-on training, develop a written set of instructions that includes the daily routines, medications and any tidbits of information that might be helpful. Encourage all alternate caregivers to visit regularly to retain familiarity with the established routines and keep abreast of inevitable changes in the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia.
Remember To Take A Break From Being A Home Caregiver
It’s also critical that the caregiver takes a break now and then. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is an around-the-clock job that can be draining emotionally and physically. To continue providing optimal care in a loving and nurturing environment, the caregiver needs time away to recharge. Seek adequate respite on a regular basis. Ask for help from family and friends. See what community resources are available, such as adult day care. These programs provide an opportunity for socialization and ensure safety during the caregiver’s absence providing the caregiver with a much needed and well-deserved break.
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