As the disease progresses, so will the needs of your loved one. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important, is your ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. Having a strong care team by your side can make this easier. With a little resourcefulness and a lot of patience, you can provide your loved one with all of the comforts of home, plus an added layer of safety.
- Assess the situation. Some parts of the home are more likely to present problems for your mom or dad’s safety. Take a close look at the garage, workshop, basement, and yard. Be sure that tools, cleaning supplies, chemicals, etc. are safely stored and out of harm’s way.
- Prevent kitchen catastrophes. You might want to make sure your loved one with dementia can’t turn on the stove when you’re out of the room. Options include installing a concealed gas valve or simply taking off the knobs. You might also install appliances that shut off automatically. Scan kitchen countertops and tables for items like decorative fruits and bottles of seasoning. It’s best to remove these items.
- Safety by the numbers. Make sure you have emergency phone numbers and addresses for emergency services handy.
- Extinguish emergency situations. Regularly check fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly.
- Side-step bathroom issues.Think about the merits of a walk-in tub or shower. Add grab bars inside the show or tub, adjacent to the toilet, and near the vanity. Use safety stickers to make slick surfaces more safe.
- Well-lit rooms and walkways. Don’t keep your loved one in the dark. Shine a light on entryways, staircases, doorways, hallways and bathrooms. A strategically-placed nightlight might stop an accident before it starts.
- Special considerations. Other suggestions include putting away area rugs and installing locks or latches. Some people living with dementia may require the bedroom to be outfitted with a toilet.
If you are a caregiver for a senior with dementia, the most important thing is to first understand the disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia, it is the one with the most pronounced stages. Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition, meaning symptoms increase in severity as time goes on. It is not only important to understand the changes to come, but also recognize when it is time to bring in outside help. Sometimes, even though every fiber of your being tells you that you should be able to handle the demands of caregiving, you don’t have to do it alone. If (and when) this time arrives, in-home care can be a true blessing for family caregivers.
In-home care services offer help with the many activities of daily living in the senior’s own home, including:
- Light housekeeping
- Grocery shopping and/or making meals
- Medication reminders
You can also consider respite care, which gives you a little time away for yourself.
You can relax, knowing that your mother or father will be well cared for while you are away. Respite care services may help you return to your caregiving tasks with renewed energy and enthusiasm. You are not in this alone!