In-home care has multiple benefits to offer to both seniors and their family members. Apart from receiving quality care at affordable costs, seniors get to stay within the comfort of their own home and in the midst of their loved ones. And familial bonding can be therapeutic in that it gives the senior comfort and confidence to recover.
That being said, in-home care does come with its share of challenges. Understanding the health condition of the senior and catering to their unique needs can certainly make this easy for caregivers and family members.
If your senior family member has Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, here’s a simple guide that will come in handy.
Create a Safe Environment
Declining mental health affects judgment and decision-making abilities, eventually increasing the risk of injury to individuals. Needless to say, when providing in-home care to seniors, assessing potential hazards and preparing the home environment is essential to preventing accidents.
- Remove furniture like foot stools, coffee tables, racks, etc. that the senior might trip over. Simply do away with unsteady furniture instead of rearranging everything as doing so might cause confusion.
- Do away with area rugs and clutter to prevent falls. Also make sure there are no loose wires and cables around the house.
- Install safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases. Ensure the top and bottom steps are of a contrasting color to the flooring- use paint or color strips.
- Install handrails and grab bars in areas like the staircase and bathroom. Use anti-slip mats and strips in the shower and bathtub.
- Keep medications, chemicals, sharp utensils, and other potential hazards out of their reach. Install safety locks on cabinets and drawers that house these hazards.
Help with Organization
Clutter creates visual noise and can give rise to undue stress. Keeping things that are absolutely necessary and organizing them well can minimize confusion for the senior, and make it easier for them to find things (such as clothes) and take decisions.
- Label cupboards, drawers, cabinets, and baskets in big, bold font to help the senior tell what’s kept where easily. You can use pictures as labels too.
- Print important and emergency phone numbers and addresses in a large font size and put them up by the phone. Keep a pad and a pen handy for the senior to jot down things.
- Designate obvious places for objects- for example, place keys in a bowl near the main door.
- Reduce visual clutter by opting for solid colored sheets and tablecloths instead of printed ones. Color code objects or appliances for ease of use.
Stick to Routine
- Lack of structure can give rise to anxiety, which can further trigger behavior issues in seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Getting seniors to follow a strict daily routine can eliminate irregularities and promote peaceful living.
- Schedule meals, baths, and grooming activities around the same time each day. Difficult tasks should be scheduled around times when the senior is most calm and agreeable.
- Get the senior to do tasks like dressing or light chores like dusting by themselves. Keep them engaged in activities– this will not only give them something to do, but also help maintain self-esteem and boost motor and cognitive skills.
- Be consistent with getting the senior to maintain social connections, perform light exercises like walking, going out for shopping, etc.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia manifest differently in different individuals. Since the rate of progression of these diseases also differs from person to person, expect to see changes in the senior’s attitude, behavior, and abilities from time to time.
- Realize that the senior might need extra time to get chores done. Avoid rushing them through getting dressed or finishing meals. Help them focus on the task at hand by minimizing distractions- for example, turn off the TV.
- Don’t do things for the senior just to get the job done; encourage independence by letting them get dressed or perform chores by themselves.
- Limit choices and break tasks into smaller ones to help the senior to focus. Watch out for signs of over-stimulation, and allow frequent breaks as needed.
- Remember that individuals who have dementia struggle with memory, logic, and judgment. When you hear the senior say something that isn’t true or see them do something that’s not quite right, control your instincts and refrain from correcting them.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can have a substantial impact on the lives of individuals with these diseases. Since these progressive brain diseases affect thought processes, reasoning, personality, and behavior, family members and caregivers can find it difficult to care for such senior individuals.
Taking steps in the right direction can make caring for seniors manageable in the long-term. With the information provided here, you now know how to go about caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Written by Evan Thompson
About Evan Thompson, Guest Contributor, CEO and Founder of Senior.One
Evan Thompson, CEO, and Founder of Senior.One has a long-standing interest in finding solutions for seniors. He helps connect senior citizens and their family members with elder care service providers and find the resources they need in one place. He offers information on nursing homes, hospice, financial planning, adult care, lifestyle and assisted living albuquerque. He provides information on housing, medical professionals, financial planning services, and lifestyle options.