Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are one of the most debilitating diseases of our time. In the United States, approximately 5.4 million Americans are known to have Alzheimer’s. That’s one out of every eight senior Americans over the age of 65. It is estimated that 1 in 85 people around the world will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050. With the continued trend of aging populations, experts predict that more and more people will suffer from this crippling disease in the coming years.
Although seniors are usually the ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is not unheard of to know some cases of early-onset dementia. Unfortunately, the initial symptoms can be so subtle that people around the patient often see these symptoms as part of aging or stress-induced. Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers become increasingly forgetful of names and places. They start to become irritable and hostile towards others. Later, they will neglect to take care of themselves and will wander or withdraw from social interactions. In the end, complications will lead to death, which is seven years after diagnosis on average.
It is the progressive and degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s that it is infamous for. Most patients will decline mentally and physically to a point where total care is needed. The primary caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient is usually the spouse or significant other. A son, daughter, sibling or other close relative may also assume the responsibility wholly or in part.
Alzheimer’s is particularly known for placing a heavy burden on caregivers who suffer from exhaustion, burnout, depression and mental conditions of their own. Experts recommend that caregivers take care of themselves to be more effective. That means having breaks in between caregiving duties and striving to balance their need to work and the responsibilities to their ill loved ones.
Hiring home care workers as full-time or part-time caregivers for Alzheimer’s disease is a sensible solution. It is a win-win situation where you ensure your relative gets that care that he or she deserves while you are away working or going to school. There are many benefits to having professional, well-trained personal care assistants or caregivers for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
- Making sure the home is safe for your family member who may be confused, distracted, physically weak or have poor motor skills to navigate the home environment. The caregiver clears rooms and hallways of clutter and obstacles, keep areas properly lit, and secure rugs to prevent falls. In addition, he or she will know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Know how to prevent accidents in case of agitation or lessen wandering or “sundowning.” Many people with Alzheimer’s get agitated around early evening or leave the house without permission. A constant companion such as a caregiver will help minimize stimulus that can trigger restlessness, maintain a relaxing home environment, or secure a patient if he or she is in imminent danger.
- Prepare balanced, nutritious meals in accordance with a diet plan. Alzheimer’s patients are often unable to make the correct choices regarding diet at all times. The caregiver helps the patient prepare small, simple and frequent meals that are low in fat but rich in fruits and vegetables. The right type of diet may help slow down cognitive decline.
- Provide direct physical care to patients who are unable to take care of themselves. Caregivers can assist with eating, bathing, grooming, dressing and voiding. Many people with Alzheimer’s eventually progress to neglecting their own personal body hygiene. The caregiver will help in activities of daily living which can help foster independence and prevent complications related to lack of personal care.
- Engage your loved one with Alzheimer’s through communicating, exercising, playing games and maintaining social interactions. Exercise will be good for the heart and improves mood while social engagement will help slow down mental deterioration. A companion who will listen attentively and communicate with your loved one at home is invaluable in lifting their mood and helps them function throughout the day with hardly a hitch.
Providing care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is extremely demanding and stressful. You need all the help you can get with caregiving duties. Home care workers can provide that kind of support that you need while you juggle work and other personal responsibilities in addition to being a primary caregiver.
Alzheimer’s disease has no cure and is progressive. It is painful for families to see their loved one transform and deteriorate into a shell of his or her former self. However, you can still give them the love that they deserve by making sure they are protected and taken cared of until needed.
Only deal with reputable and recognized home care agencies in looking for competent home care workers who have gone through the requisite background checks and are trained to handle patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.