The decision about how to best care for a loved one who presents with symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia is difficult to make. While care facilities can offer personalized care at the hands of experienced professionals, many loved ones of the 5.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease choose to provide care from home.
One of the most common struggles caregivers experience is making time to care for themselves. Creating a positive and safe environment for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can take a lot out of a caregiver. However, with education, preparation, and a positive attitude, a caregiver can give adequate care from home.
How to prepare to give care for dementia patients at home
Receiving a diagnosis can be a difficult experience for both the patient and their caregiver. Both people can have questions about what the future holds. While every dementia case is unique, there are several resources that can provide education on the family’s path to accepting the diagnosis and planning their next steps.
Finding and joining an Alzheimer’s support group, whether online or in-person, can provide caregivers with much-needed emotional support and access to people who have already gone through the crucial beginning stages of understanding that they can still have a good quality of life in their new situation.
Be ready and willing
Studies show that caregivers who went into at-home care with a positive, enthusiastic attitude were more ready to intervene when challenges arose, more willing to adapt their communication techniques so their loved ones felt engaged and their needs met, and able to change their home environment to provide a safe and supportive space. More positive and upbeat caregivers tended to remain engaged with their loved ones and saw positive changes in their behavior.
Preparing your home
Caregivers often note that one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a dementia patient is ensuring everyone in the home is safe. Equipping a house with grab bars in bathrooms, tacked-down carpets to prevent tripping, and locked/guarded tool and weapon cabinets can prevent incidents related to coordination issues. Placing navigation markers, like signs indicating the location of the bathroom or kitchen, can also help patients struggling with spatial memory.
Think of it like a job
Many people in caregiving situations agree that it can feel like a full-time job. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On top of the emotional toll of seeing a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease who may be losing their independence, the practical demands of taking care of someone who may have once cared for you can be especially difficult.
But separating these feelings from the responsibilities involved in treatment can help a caregiver maintain a positive attitude and keep them invested in providing a safe and rewarding atmosphere.
Patients are always living alongside their caregivers, and issues can present at any time of day. A positive attitude and preparation can help caregivers be prepared for incidents as they arise. But thinking of this situation like a job can help caregivers gain a sense of responsibility separate from their feelings about their loved one.
If you’re unsure about how to prepare to treat a dementia patient, a qualified professional can help assess your current situation, environmental needs, and the patient’s needs. These coordinators understand what changes made to a home environment can have a positive impact on a patient’s quality of life and prognosis.
Potential triggers, environmental hazards, and other safety concerns may not be obvious to an inexperienced caregiver, but a dementia care coordinator will be able to spot them and suggest ways to fix them.
Dementia care coordinators can also help with medical needs, medication delivery, nutrition assistance, and other specialized services as needed.
Some memory care or nursing facilities offer respite care for caregivers who need a break to care for their personal needs. A memory care home can take on a patient for a short time while the caregiver travels, takes care of business or personal needs, or simply takes a break.