Recognizing that a loved one has dementia can either be a slow process or a "Wow! Things have changed!" Honoring a loved ones wishes to stay at home can create a dilemma.
Typically the progress of the disease is slow and the day-to-day changes are slight. Some people get caught up in the denial approach where they would rather look the other way and rationalize the changes as "just old age".
The "Wow! Things have changed" usually comes when significant changes in the loved one's ability to manage daily activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation are realized.
There are certain precautions that should be taken to prevent a major crisis from someone living at home with dementia. Most people wait until a major incident has happened before taking action which may result in harm or even death. As the disease progresses, simple tasks may become overwhelming for the person with dementia. Here are a few tips to consider:
Purchase a telephone with large numbers and speed dial buttons. Label the speed dial button with names.
Place a sign on the bathroom mirror listing out the daily morning routine such as brushing teeth, bathing and washing you face.
It would be wise to disable the stove by unplugging it or tripping the breaker.
Wandering is a common symptom of the disease and can occur at any time. Some suggestions would be:
Place ID tags sewn into the clothing. Your local Alzheimer’s Association has a “safe return” program to help in this area.
Place a stop sign on exit doors.
Install door alarms that will sound if the door is opened.
Obtain a DNA kit from the local police department and keep a sample. In the event the person is confused or in the case of death this can be used to identify the person.
When having a conversation with the person with dementia the key is to “keep it simple’. They may be able to only process one thought at a time. Offer only one alternative when asking a decision question. “Would you like a sandwich or a salad?” “Would you like to take your bath now or after we eat?”
To avoid confusion always speak directly face to face.
Keep the sentences short and direct with simple words.
If working with a loved one on a task requiring multiple steps, break the task into small steps.
As the condition progresses personal hygiene will deteriorate. Having a discussion with a loved one about their cleanliness can be difficult. Consider these suggestions:
Hiring a Home Care Service that can provide professional caregiver assistance to help with bathing, dressing and grooming helps preserve your loved ones dignity and embarrassment for family members. Most people accept personal hygiene assistance with so much less resistance from someone outside of the family.
Removing dirty clothing or items while your loved one is outside the home, or sleeping and replacing with clean items can make things less stressful.
Find a professional that can provide nail care. There are some individuals who will conduct this service at home. Contact your local senior center or Home Care company to get referrals on who to contact in your area.
When dealing with dementia it is difficult for family members due to the emotional attachments and family dynamics. Senior care professionals who are trained and have experience with dementia can give guidance and objective advice.
Where do you turn when a love one needs more than you can manage on your own? What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution? Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care since 1994, Easy Living Services. Flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, and personal attention. Call us to discuss your specific needs, 770-442-8664 or visit us at: www.easylivingservices.com