13 Dementia Home Care Tips
When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia, some families opt for dementia home care as long as possible. The comfort of a familiar environment is beneficial to your aging loved one, but this becomes more difficult as time goes on and their health begins to decline. Every day has new challenges, like unexpected behaviors or changes to your loved one’s functional abilities.
There is no one-size-fits-all situation when it comes to dementia home care. Caregivers typically create a plan for dealing with their aging loved one’s mix of symptoms. The effectiveness of your plan is likely going to change throughout the patient’s illness. The best way to find out what works best for yourself and your loved one is trial and error.
How to Provide Dementia Home Care
1. Have A Daily Dementia Home Care Routine
In the same sense that a familiar environment at home is reassuring for your loved one, try and establish a daily routine of tasks or activities to keep your loved one oriented and focused. You should begin by looking at and observing your loved one’s daily routine and look for any patterns or changes in their mood and behavior. This will help you better optimize your dementia home care plan. For example, if your loved one seems to be less confused and more cooperative in the afternoon, then you should adapt your routine and take advantage of their lucid moments to help the day go more smoothly.
Alzheimer’s patients’ functional abilities and preferences can change from day to day, so try to be flexible in order to adapt to their needs. After that, think of incorporating the following tips into your dementia home care plan to help ensure a long and successful care experience for you and your aging loved one.
2. Learn How To Communicate
Speaking with someone who has Alzheimer’s can be challenging, and family caregivers depend on mutual understanding with their loved one. If there’s no clear communication, both the caregiver and the patient can become frustrated and feel misunderstood. The following suggestions can improve your interactions with your loved one and help facilitate daily dementia home care when combined with a lot of practice and patience.
- Opt for simple words as well as short sentences. Use a calm and gentle tone.
- Speak slowly, but do not talk to the patient like a child.
- Maintain respect and don’t speak about them as if they aren’t present.
- Minimize any distractions, for example, a television or radio, to help the patient focus on your words.
- Give enough time for them to respond and try not to interrupt.
- If you don’t understand what they are saying, look for nonverbal clues.
- Learn to interpret gestures, descriptions, and substitutions.
- Instead of asking open-ended questions, give a few options to choose from.
Adapt Activities Of Daily Living For Dementia Home Care
Activities of daily living are daily personal care tasks that most people can typically do on their own. However, as an Alzheimer’s patient’s functional abilities decline, daily tasks can be increasingly difficult. Understanding how memory loss affects these daily living activities, timing activities wisely, and adapting to all the steps involved will help ensure your loved one can complete their tasks with dignity.
3. Bathing Your Dementia Patient
Dementia home care patients may find bathing to be frightening and confusing. They may think that they have recently showered, but in actuality, the last time they bathed was days or weeks ago. In addition, your loved one may be confused by the bathing process, be afraid of the water, or be afraid of falling. Those who experience heightened sensitivity to these problems should plan ahead of time to make it easier on themselves and the patient.
- Make sure you have your bathing products ready ahead of time, along with towels and any assistive devices. You should also prepare the bathwater ahead of time.
- Pay attention to the temperature of the water and the air. Try to warm up the room before your loved one enters if necessary. You should also keep extra towels and a robe nearby. Test the water temperature before bathing.
- Minimize any safety risks by using a hand-held shower, grab bars, a shower bench, or nonskid bath mats. Do not ever leave the person alone in the bathtub or shower.
- If your loved one needs help bathing, move slowly and tell them what you will do step by step. Allow them to assist you as much as possible.
- Bathing every day may be excessive, so a sponge bath can be effective between full baths or showers.
Getting dressed may seem like a simple task to you, but those with Alzheimer’s face hurdles with this task as well as caregivers. A cognitive and physical decline affects a patient’s ability to acknowledge when they need to change their clothing, when they need to choose weather-appropriate clothing, and how to put on or take off shoes. Making these challenges easier can make a large difference in your loved one’s sense of independence.
- Set aside extra time before leaving the house so they can dress themselves as much as they can without having to rush.
- Let them choose what they want to wear from a selection of outfits. If they have a favorite outfit or piece of clothing, you should consider buying a few pieces of it or the same style in a few different colors.
- Keep some of their clothing in another room to reduce the number of options they can choose from. If they have too many options, it can overwhelm them when trying to make a decision. Keep only a few outfits in their closet or dresser.
- Arrange clothing in the order they will put on to help guide them through the process.
- Pick out clothing that is comfortable, easy to take on and off, and simple to care for. Consider purchasing dressing aids or adaptive clothing items such as elastic waistbands and Velcro closures. This will minimize struggles with finicky fasteners like buttons, zippers, and shoelaces.
5. Going To The Bathroom
Many dementia home care patients begin to have trouble controlling their bladder and bowels as the disease progresses. This is known as incontinence, and it can be very embarrassing for the senior. Additionally, it can be difficult for the caregiver to handle. Incontinence may also result from a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), so you should consult a doctor to determine the root cause.
Here are some useful toileting tips:
- Create a dedicated bathroom schedule. Try not to vary from your set schedule, be proactive, and don’t wait for your loved one to ask to go to the bathroom before you take them.
- Keep a log of accidents. This will help you track when your senior needs to use the restroom and may help you prevent future accidents.
- Look for nonverbal clues that they need to use the bathroom.
- Avoid giving your loved one liquids before bedtime in order to prevent accidents in bed.
- If you are going out in the town, make sure you plan ahead and bring an extra change of clothes.
6. Feeding And Dementia Home Care
Some dementia home care patients want to eat constantly while others struggle with eating enough calories and getting the proper nutrients. Eating and drinking require the use of your senses and your motor skills, both of which can be diminished for Alzheimer’s patients. Making some adjustments at mealtime can help your loved one get the nutrients they need and maintain a healthy weight.
- Allow your loved one to choose what to eat, but limit how many options they may choose from. Offer appealing foods that may vary in taste, texture, and color.
- Serve small portions or a few small meals throughout the day. Large portions can be overwhelming for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Choose dishes and utensils that promote your loved one’s independence. If the patient has trouble using utensils, use a bowl instead of a plate. You may also want to offer utensils with thicker handles that are easier to grasp. Difficulty with utensils can also be addressed by serving finger foods. Use cups with lids or straws to make drinking easier and reduce messes.
- As Alzheimer’s progresses, be aware of the increased risk of choking or aspiration due to difficulty swallowing.
7. Do Activities And Encourage Socializing
When you put together your dementia home care plan, include hobbies and activities that you know your loved one enjoys and is still within their abilities. Focusing on activities within their current skillset is generally much easier than teaching a dementia patient new skills.
- It’s important to help your patient get started. Make sure the activity isn’t too complicated. If they have difficulty getting started, break the activity down into smaller steps.
- If your dementia patient begins to get irritated with the activity, help them, or simply change activities.
- Enroll them in an adult day care service for dementia home care patients where they can socialize with other seniors. This also helps give the caregiver a much-needed break.
8. Research Dementia Behaviors And How To Manage Them
Sundowning and Sleep Problems
Those with Alzheimer’s can feel restless, flustered, or irritable towards the end of the afternoon or evening. This is known as sundowning or sundown syndrome. The suggestions below may help manage mood, behavior changes, and poor sleep that results from sundowning.
- Encourage exercise or more physically demanding activities earlier in the day because it improves the patient’s sleep quality. You may want to move any stimulating or stressful activities such as bathing to the morning.
- Make sure the person gets adequate rest by avoiding taking naps later in the day. Fatigue can increase the patient’s likelihood of restlessness and exacerbate sundowning.
- Have a quiet tone in the evening by limiting activities and other distractions. Try to eliminate loud noises by playing soothing music and minimize television watching since it can be stimulating.
- Make sure the home is well lit if dark. Shadows can appear, triggering fear, pacing, or other sundowning behaviors in the patient.
Hallucinations and Delusions
As Alzheimer’s progresses, patients with the disease can potentially experience delusions and hallucinations. Keep an eye out for this and learn how to respond to these symptoms. This is a crucial piece of dementia home care and can take a lot of practice.
- The symptoms of hallucinations and delusions can signify that your loved one is experiencing a physical illness. Keep track of what your patient is experiencing and consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Avoid arguing with your loved one about their experiences. Try to validate how they feel and provide reassurance if they are afraid.
- Avoid playing graphic or violent tv shows or movies. Your loved one may not be able to differentiate between what is reality and what is not.
- Make sure your patient is in a safe area and doesn’t have access to anything they may harm themselves or others with.
Alzheimer’s patients may occasionally wander from their homes which can be very dangerous. Create a wandering prevention plan to protect patients from becoming lost. The wandering behavior is onset and may develop at any time without warning, so creating a plan is essential.
- Talk with your neighbors and local authorities in advance if your patient tends to wander. Kindly ask them to contact you or the police immediately if your loved one is seen alone off of the property. Consult with your local police or fire department to check if there’s a program in your area for tracking and locating wanderers.
- Keep outside doors locked. Consider a deadbolt or additional locks on the door. If your loved one can open a lock because it’s familiar to them, installing a new type of lock may help.
- Install an alarm system that chimes when any exterior doors and windows are opened.
Dementia sleep disorders can be stressful for the patient and their caregivers. If your loved one is suffering from dementia sleep disorders, read this article to learn more about how to keep dementia patients in bed at night.
9. Consider Safety Proofing The Home
It is very important to factor home safety considerations into your dementia home care plan. To do this, you should do a room-by-room audit to identify any potential hazards. If you need help, you can consult with an aging-in-place specialist or an occupational therapist. Being proactive and creating a safe space for your senior can prevent dangerous situations and reduce stress for both the caregiver and patient.
Here are some useful safety tips to help secure your home:
- Lock medications away and make sure they are properly labeled.
- Kitchen safety is very important. Sometimes dementia home care patients forget to turn off the stove which can lead to fires. Look into automatic shutoff switches for appliances to prevent house fires.
10. Be Aware Of Driving Issues
Alzheimer’s affects the patient’s cognitive and physical abilities needed to operate a vehicle safely. The decision to take away car keys is difficult for many families, but it needs to be communicated and executed carefully. Your loved one may be upset by this change, but safety must come first.
- Look out for clues that they may no longer be driving in a safe manner. For example, if they get lost in familiar places, are driving too fast or slow, disregarding signs, becoming angry or confused, and lookout for signs of damage on their vehicle.
- Be sensitive to their feelings, but be firm with your request that they can no longer drive.
- When the time comes for your loved one to stop driving, they may resist. Instead of arguing with them, provide other alternatives of transportation that will help them maintain their daily lives.
- Ask the doctor to use their authority to persuade your loved one to stop driving. Ask the doctor to contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and request their driving skills be reevaluated.
11. Learn About Burnout In Dementia Home Caregivers
Looking after Dementia home care patients can be challenging emotionally and can be very demanding. The decision to care for your loved one at home is a big decision that affects all aspects of your life. You should take all necessary steps to prioritize your self-care as this is a critical step for your well-being as well as the well-being of your loved one.
12. Consider Hiring In-Home Care
Respite care can play a major role in anyone’s dementia home care plan. Respite care benefits both the family caregiver and the patient. Caregivers cannot constantly provide 100% care to their loved one, especially considering how their needs have changed, so respite care is a good option. Professional caregivers who have a plethora of experience with Dementia patients add value to your care plan and care team. These professionals can help with all areas of care, as we have described above. They can also allow caregivers to have breaks while allowing their loved one to continue living at home.
13. Recognize When Your Patient Needs More Than Dementia Home Care
In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, at-home care for your loved one can become too dangerous, demanding, and expensive. Family caregivers need to watch for serious changes to their patient’s conditions and understand their personal limits. In addition, family caregivers should learn about other types of Alzheimer’s care that may be more appropriate as the disease progresses.
- Some patients could potentially resist going to doctor’s appointments and seeking medical care, but your loved one should receive routine check-ups. Seeing a neurologist or geriatrician for a consultation will have you have a better understanding of your loved one’s basic cognitive and functional abilities. Any additional test will help you better track the diseases and will help address any issues as they arise.
- Keep an eye out for any instances or symptoms that could suggest any major changes in your loved one’s care plan. For example, increased anxiety, abusive behavior, wandering, falling, or the rising need for around-the-clock care/supervision. Changing care providers or the care environment could be best for everyone involved. If these issues are left unattended, it could endanger your loved one’s safety and health as well as the caregiver’s.
- Most people aren’t familiar with end-of-life care, especially with Alzheimer’s. Learning and researching about hospice care coverage and eligibility will help you prepare for the end stages of the disease. If you also research how people pass away from Alzheimer’s, it may help prepare you and your family for any difficult decisions that may arise.
Legal And Financial Planning For Dementia
It is common for dementia patients to require nursing home care as the disease progresses.
Unfortunately, the cost of nursing home care is incredibly expensive.
In Michigan, the average cost of a nursing home is between $8,000-$9,000 per month. Many families worry about spending their entire life savings and losing the family home just to pay for nursing home costs.
Fortunately, you can protect your savings and home from nursing home costs by qualifying for nursing home benefits to pay for care.
To find out how, please read this article…
If you already know that you want nursing home benefits to pay for care, please call our office at (248) 613-0007 to schedule a free initial case evaluation to find out if we can help you qualify.