When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, a family’s life can turn upside down. In such situations, families may not know much about the disease, including what to expect with treatment and how soon before the dementia patient begins to need care that the family cannot capably provide.
Over time, dementia patients’ loved ones are likely to benefit from the expertise and assistance of qualified dementia caregivers. It can be overwhelming for loved ones to offer the right level of care for someone who is unable to perform the activities of daily living. Bathing, medication management, dressing, and feeding are often very difficult for dementia patients.
The Alzheimer’s Association says that providing good care for someone with dementia goes beyond meeting basic needs. It also means finding caregivers who treat the whole person and provide an environment that can enable the person to be safe yet independent.
In order to get started, one should first assess the needs of their loved one with dementia. How many services he or she will require depends on whether that person can use the bathroom, walk, eat, or bathe independently. Alz.org says care needs tend to be lesser in the early stages of dementia. However, during the middle and end stages of dementia, 24-hour supervision and potentially more intensive medical care may be necessary.
Some families start with a visiting caregiver who can come to the house. For example, a home care service should be certified to offer care according to advanced dementia care protocols after working with leading dementia specialists. Caregivers may offer companionship and helpful reminders. Others may assist clients with personal tasks. One key aspect of dementia care is preventing wandering. Six in 10 people with dementia will wander. A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Caregivers can put protocols in place to help reduce wandering. Alert bracelets and GPS tracking devices can help in this regard as well.
At some point, caregivers can help families transition someone with dementia to nursing facilities with memory care divisions. Social workers and other aides may help families navigate the legalities of medical insurance and long-term care insurance as well as government assistance programs that may help offset the costs of more intensive care.
It’s never too soon to develop a care plan for someone with dementia. Qualified and compassionate caregivers can help ease the burden of dementia on patients and their families.
Alzheimer’s Association: Information and support for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Operates a 24/7 helpline and care navigator tools.