As those who once took care of you age, the potential for needing help themselves becomes more apparent. In some cases, the issues are mainly physical; some tasks require strength that the loved one no longer possesses. At other times, the focus is more on a loss of mental acuity, meaning the loved one is beginning to suffer with dementia.
At this juncture, you feel that it’s still possible to provide some help and ensure the loved one can continue to live in his or her own home. You may also feel that bringing the loved one into your home and caring for the person there is also an option. With either approach, there are things about dementia home care that you should know. Here are some essentials that will help you on this journey, including tips for providing care, recognizing when it’s time to seek out professionals who can help you with that care, and the overall benefits associated with engaging the services of a home care professional who understands the nature of dementia well.
Tips for Taking Care of a Parent or Other Loved One With Dementia
When you’re thinking about caring for a parent with dementia at home, some things will need to change. Just as your parent made some adjustments to the home once you were born and part of the family, you will need to look around and see the surroundings in a new light. To that end, incorporate these tips as a way to make the home safer and easier to enjoy for your parent:
- Evaluate Every Room in the Home:
You’ll need to think more about how every room is arranged. That includes the living room, den, basement, attic, and garage. Remember that your loved one will be living in more than a bedroom. That means each area of the house will have to be laid out with the needs of your parent in mind. By taking a good look at each one, you can decide what needs to be rearranged or changed in some manner.
- Safety Locks and Devices May Be Needed:
There may be the need to lock some areas in order to avoid the potential for an accident to happen. For example, locks on cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom can keep your loved one away from cleaning products. In much the same manner, you can install a device that makes it harder to turn on a stove eye or the oven without using a code. Locks on gardening equipment and supplies that you store in the garage is also a good idea.
- Keep a List of Emergency Numbers in More Than One Place:
You have emergency phone numbers stored on the smartphone, but don’t stop there. Consider other areas where you can store them so they’re always within easy reach. That includes hand-written lists that you keep in the car’s glove compartment, a list in your wallet, and possibly one that’s near the landline phones. While it may seem redundant, multiple lists in multiple places can buy extra seconds if something untoward should take place.
- Check the Fire Safety Equipment More Often:
When was the last time you checked the home fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and smoke alarms? If you’re not sure, that’s a sign to check them now. In fact, set up a schedule with reminders so that you check each of these at least monthly. While you’re at it, consider investing in a few additional fire extinguishers and keep one in each room. Doing so will make it easier to reach one of them and use it to get you and your loved one out of the house if necessary.
- Consider Some Modifications to the Bathroom:
What would make it easier for your loved one to enjoy a bath, or to manage tasks like washing the hands? In many cases, the modifications that you make will not inhibit you and other members of the family from still making the most of the space. A walk-in shower or tub is something everyone can use, even your aging parent. Grab bars in the shower won’t slow you down, but they will help your loved one. Even bars near the vanity or the toilet will make getting up and down easier.
- New Lighting in Different Spots:
You may not notice at first, but some areas of your home don’t get much light. Consider adding light fixtures to areas that tend to be a little darker. This can be hallways, landings on staircases, and the basement or attic. The point of more light is to make it easier to see whatever is coming up and avoid it if necessary.
- Banish Some Elements From the Home:
Some things will need to go for now. That could mean things like throw rugs, knick-knacks that take up table space, and other things that could pave the way for accidents.
Signs That You Need Professional Help
With dedication and the best of intentions, you commit to managing dementia care at home and ensuring your parent is happy and safe. Over time, things are likely to change and that means additional stress for you. How do you know when things have escalated to the point that you could use some professional support? Here are some signs to keep in mind.
You’re Exhausted All the Time:
Sleep has become elusive and you feel tired from the moment you get up until you go back to bed at night. There’s a good chance you’re not eating properly, exercising, or falling into the deep sleep you need to remain healthy. Worry may have a lot to do with it. Until you get some help, the fatigue will only get worse.
- You’re More Easily Irritated:
In like manner, all sorts of things get under your skin. That includes things that you never used to think about twice. Everything seems to be more of a problem too, even the stuff that you used to deal with easily. With professional support, you can begin to recover your emotional balance.
- Your Own Health is Beginning to Suffer:
Maybe you’re losing or gaining an unhealthy amount of weight, Perhaps your blood pressure is up. It could be that you have headaches more often. It all seems to track back to the fact that you’re not taking care of yourself properly. If something doesn’t change, you may end up needing a caregiver yourself.
There Seems to be More Left Undone at the End of Each Day:
In times past, you could go to bed knowing everything was done. That doesn’t happen now. More often than not, there are still things to do, but you don’t have the energy to deal with them. That sense of falling further behind just makes things worse. With professional support, you can make sure nothing is left undone.
You’re Suffering With Depression:
It’s not a case of the blues that will go away anytime soon. The doctor confirms that you have mild to moderate depression. Unless something changes, things will only get worse. With professional support on hand, it will be easier to begin the recovery and eventually restore your sense of emotional equilibrium. That’s important for your parent with dementia as well as for you.
Benefits of Dementia Home Care Services and Professional Caregivers
There’s no place like home is not just some old saying. It happens to be true. You can bet that caring for your loved one at home will provide quite a few benefits. Even with dementia that’s slowly getting worse, being at home will provide a number of advantages. Here are a few to consider.
- Familiar Surroundings:
In spite of the memory issues that come with dementia, the moments when things are clear are less jarring when the surroundings are familiar. They can help to calm someone who isn’t sure what’s happening or why. Even if there’s someone who isn’t immediately recognizable there, many patients take comfort by realizing they are in their own spaces and not some care facility.
- Care Around the Clock:
Depending on the condition of your loved one, it may be necessary to arrange for 24 hour home care. That’s not something you can do on your own. With help from a professional caregiver, it is possible to ensure there’s someone on hand at all times. Along with keeping your loved one safe, it also makes it easier for you to get the rest that you need.
- Someone to Help With Bathing and Medication:
As dementia advances, getting a parent to take medication or manage a bath or shower can become more difficult. While you may not be sure of the best way to manage tasks like these, a professional caregiver will know what to do.
- Behavior Monitoring:
While some behavioral changes related to dementia are easy for most people to notice, others are more subtle. While you may not notice them, you can bet that a professional caregiver will spot those changes early on. That makes it all the easier to arrange any changes in routine or care that may be needed to ensure your loved one continues to get the best of care.
Private home care is often the most practical solution for loved ones suffering with dementia. Between the familiarity of the setting and the ability to make the place safe, this is an option to consider carefully. While there is only so much that a child can do to help a parent with dementia, bringing in a professional to aid in that care can be good for everyone involved.