Caring for a parent with dementia at home can be both difficult and rewarding. In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to live at home with relative independence like they did before their diagnosis. However, more help often becomes necessary as the disease progresses.
Learn what tools you need to successfully provide home care for dementia patients, including safety information, resources to support seniors and family caregivers, and warning signs you could need a new caregiving arrangement, such asmemory care.
Seniors with dementia can remain in their homes or with family caregivers longer if they have proper education and resources, according to the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center.
In a Johns Hopkins study, about 300 elderly adults with dementia and their family caregivers received monthly consultations on home care for dementia patients from professionally qualified teams, as well as referrals and counseling on health, nutrition, activities, and more. A similar number of participants did not receive these resources. The families who had help stayed in their homes an average of 9 1/2 months longer. Self-rated quality of life for elderly adults and family caregivers in this group rose significantly during the study.
Before choosing to provide Alzheimer’s home care for a loved one, consider your ability to offer these three things that Johns Hopkins researchers noted were vital for success.
Safety precautions. Seniors with dementia often experience disorientation and begin to wander. A fall may result in hospitalization or immediate need for a long-term care facility. Safety needs change as dementia progresses:
Health care. Regular medical treatment and appropriately administered medication can help loved ones age at home longer. But some health conditions when coupled with dementia present real challenges. Consider these example health concerns when determining whether you can care for a dementia patient at home:
Stimulation. Appropriate stimulation, through activities and physical or occupational therapy, can reduce agitation and make dementia symptoms more manageable:
With the right tools, family caregivers can help care for a parent with dementia at home longer. Seniors diagnosed with dementia often face a long path of cognitive decline, but caregivers can help by providing memory aids and opportunities for success along the way.
Memory tools. Memory aids can help people become more organized and manage the symptoms of memory loss. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers several recommendations:
Success and accomplishments. Continued learning and achievement can reduce agitation over memory loss and slow the process of cognitive decline, the APA says. By emphasizing remaining strengths, caregivers can help seniors with mild to moderate dementia succeed. Try to facilitate success when caring for a parent with dementia at home by ensuring a level of autonomy.
Providing the required care and support for people with dementia can quickly become a full-time job. Respite care and in-home care are two important resources to help with caregiver duties and give family members a break.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Respite care can be arranged at home or in a nearby senior living community. Rather than a long-term commitment, it’s temporary relief for people caring for dementia patients in their homes. 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 the perfect way for you to recharge, or it could reveal the benefits of long-term memory care over home care.
While there are differences between home care and memory care amenities and features, here are several things home care aides trained to assist seniors with dementia can provide:
Make sure the aide has experience with home care for dementia patients, because a specific set of skills is required. Know your loved one’s dementia symptoms, care needs, and expectations before calling to screen and hire home care providers. Once you’ve chosen a caregiver, share information about your relative’s life, memories, and experiences to help the two connect.
There’s currently no cure for dementia. Some older adults age at home successfully for years or even decades with moderate dementia, relying on family caregivers for support. But it’s important to keep in mind that dementia is unpredictable, and care needs could 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 any of the three must-haves — safety precautions, health care, and stimulation — can’t be met, or the caregiver’s emotional or physical health is at risk, memory care may be needed. Exploring options early can help prevent stress and worry when the time comes for a change.
Contact our Senior Living Advisors if caring for a parent with dementia at home has become overwhelming, or if you believe your loved one isn’t receiving the necessary resources to slow cognitive decline. Our senior living experts can provide more information about respite options, professional Alzheimer’s home care, or memory care in your area.