Caring for a parent living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia at home can be both difficult and rewarding. In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to live independently but often, help becomes necessary as the condition progresses. Many families are able to care for a parent living with dementia at home by planning and maintaining a realistic view on their loved one’s needs and their own ability to provide care.
Seniors living with dementia can remain in their homes or with family caregivers longer if they and the caregivers have proper education and resources, according to the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center.
Before choosing to provide dementia care at home for a loved one, consider your ability to offer the following care that Johns Hopkins researchers noted were vital for success.
Seniors living with dementia often experience disorientation and may wander. A fall may result in hospitalization or an immediate need for a long-term care facility. Maintaining your loved one’s safety and mobility is key and it’s important to acknowledge that safety needs change as dementia progresses:
Regular medical treatment and appropriately administered medication can help a loved one age at home longer. But some health conditions, when coupled with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, present additional challenges.
Consider these examples of health concerns when determining whether you can care for a loved one living with dementia at home:
Appropriate stimulation through exercise and social activities can reduce agitation and make dementia symptoms more manageable. People living with dementia need socialization. Whether through group activities at a local senior center or frequent family visits, interaction improves quality of life.
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If your parent has refused to move into assisted living or memory care, it can be challenging to determine the supports needed to keep them at home longer. With the right tools, family caregivers can help care for a parent with dementia over a longer time period. Seniors diagnosed with dementia often face a long path of cognitive decline, but in-home caregivers can help by providing memory aids and opportunities for success.
Memory aids can help people become more organized and manage the symptoms of memory loss. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers several recommendations:
By emphasizing strengths, caregivers can help seniors with mild to moderate dementia feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Continued learning and achievement can reduce agitation over memory loss and slow the process of cognitive decline, according to the APA.
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As a family caregiver, providing care and support for a loved one living with dementia can quickly become a full-time job. Professional in-home care and respite care are two important resources to help support caregiver duties and give family caregivers a break.
While there are distinct differences between home care and memory care facilities, home care aides trained to assist seniors with dementia care can provide numerous services including:
Know your loved one’s dementia symptoms, care needs, and expectations before screening and hiring an in-home care provider and make sure the aide has experience caring for individuals living with dementia. Once you’ve chosen a caregiver, share information about your relative’s life, memories, and experiences to help them connect.
Respite care can be arranged at home, in a nearby senior living community, or at a memory care day center. Rather than a long-term commitment, it’s a temporary break for dementia caregivers. While someone else cares for your elderly family member, you can travel, go to medical appointments, or simply relax.
In senior communities, respite care may also be called short-term care or short-term assisted living. Gauge your own emotional well-being during this time. Periodic respite care may be a way for you to recharge. It could also reveal the benefits of a long-term memory care facility over home care.
Some older adults whose dementia progresses slowly may be able to age at home for years relying on family caregivers for support. But there’s currently no cure for dementia so it’s important to remember that symptoms are unpredictable and care needs can change suddenly.
Also, don’t forget that caregiver needs and abilities may change as well. Poor caregiver health is one of the most common reasons older adults with dementia move to memory care.
If dementia progresses to the point where a loved one’s safety, health, or quality of life can’t be maintained, memory care may be needed. Memory care should also be considered if your own emotional and physical health as a family caregiver are at risk. Talking to your parents about memory care and exploring options early can help prevent stress and worry when the time comes for a change.
Caring for a parent with dementia at home can become overwhelming for family caregivers. If you feel you need assistance caring for your loved one at home, reach out to our Senior Living Advisors. They can provide information about respite options, professional dementia home care, or memory care in your area — all at no cost to your family.
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