One of the most challenging aspects of taking care of elderly parents with Alzheimer’s is adjusting to the troubling and sometimes abrupt changes in personality and behavior. Sometimes, family members are still in a phase of denial and aren’t ready to cope with the reality of Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects their aging pare
There are many factors to consider when caring for a loved one, and of course, having them close to home makes the situation easier. But what do you do when your loved one lives 50 or 500 miles away, or even across the country? Although it seems like it is unmanageable, there are ways to not only keep peace-of-mind, but also to ensure safety, stay on top of their health, and be aware of any crucial health changes.
Keeping on top of their health situation and identifying problems before they become major issues is of key importance. Also, in regards to patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other memory issues, it is important to detect changes in behavior as soon as they happen. Of course, there are options to keep them safe, such as a medical alert system, but having a home care aide readily accessible is one of the most important and easiest ways to control the situation. It is the job of the family members to inform the home care agency of what you expect from them.
Document Patient’s Routine
To be successful, it is important to identify the patient’s daily routine and understand their behavioral patterns. Since nearby family, friends, and at-home caregivers are the ones who tend to be the most familiar with the senior, they will be the first to notice a decline. Be in communication with them or the home care agency to keep track of changes.
It is important to set initial benchmarks so the healthcare workers and the caregiving agency are able to determine if there has been a change in behavior. Having a doctor or a nurse evaluate your elderly parent for what they can and can’t do is an essential way to set standards. If there are any signs of the senior getting worse, the at-home caregivers can help identify those changes.
If a change in behavior is detected, the next step is contacting the physician for a formal diagnosis. In the event of a physical change, many times the patients are still able to live at home, but the physician might recommend more home care services to assist with helping the patient get stronger. In regards to a mental decline, the situation can become a little more difficult. If the patient isn’t a danger to him or herself, they can most likely continue living on their own. However, if they wander out of their house, leave burners on, etc, they might need 24/7 supervision.
With 24/7 supervision, seniors are oftentimes able to “age in place.” At this level of supervision, family members don’t have to worry about the safety of their elders because they are always being watched. When seniors get to this level, many people think the only option is a skilled nursing or assisted living facility, but one of the downsides to these facilities, other than having to leave the familiar setting of a house, is that many patients share one caregiver. The benefit of having a private caregiver is that one caregiver is working with one client. This means the patient is receiving a superior level of care in most instances.
In-home caregivers range from trained medical professionals, able to assist their charges with managing medications and vitals, to family members who have stepped up to the responsibility. Support can come in all forms and sometimes includes help with eating meals, bathing, exercising, or even just companionship. Depending on the situation, caregivers do not necessarily have to be a nurse or someone who is able to provide medical support. Home care helps give both you and your loved one peace of mind, knowing that someone can help with daily activities and chores that they cannot perform on their own.
April 30, 2015
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