As you research home care options for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, let’s first take a few minutes to understand a few things about the condition. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia, but it’s not the only one. Dementia is a general term to describe the symptoms of mental decline that accompany Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. Alzheimer’s is however the most well-known and common form of dementia but not everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s.
There are many different types of dementia (e.g. lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia). Alzheimer’s, itself has a whole spectrum ranging from pre-clinical to mild/early stage to moderate/mid stage, and severe/late stage. Doctors use treatments to slow down the progression of the condition. Here are a few examples for you to consider that illustrate the various stages:
- In early stage: Remembering names of new people, having difficulty performing tasks in social settings, forgetting material that was just read, misplacing a valuable object.
- In mid stage: Moody or withdrawn in social situations, experiencing changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night, difficultly choosing and wearing clothes, personality and behavioral changes like suspiciousness, delusions, compulsive or repetitive behavior.
- In severe stage: Significant changes in physical abilities including walking or sitting, lose awareness of recent experiences and surroundings, require around-the-clock assistance with daily personal care like bathing, toileting, changing.
Your role in caring for your loved one typically will increase as they progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s. If you don’t have a helping hand at home, it can become overwhelming. Professional caregivers can help you provide the care your loved one with Alzheimer’s needs. The specific services and caregivers you need will depend on disease progression and how much time can you invest in gaining knowledge and training and caring for them. For most families, having professionals care for their loved one at home is the most practical and cost-efficient way to provide expert and personalized help from experienced caregivers.
Here are five key considerations when choosing the right in-home care service provider.
Alzheimer’s affects mental functions, which can increase a person’s risk of injury. So, when designing your in-home care plan, you need to design your home to prevent falls, accidental use of anything dangerous, and extreme temperatures. An experienced in home care company will work with you to do a detailed review of your loved one’s living areas, toilets, bedroom and so to help ensure a safe operating environment for their well being
- Services my loved one needs
With in home care, there are a range of services such as Housekeeping (vacuuming, laundry), Meal preparation (preparing meals, doing dishes), Personal hygiene (bathing, toileting), Companionship and engagement (family respite, board games, music, social activities), Medication reminders, Transportation (running errands, doctor appointments, and shopping)
An experienced in home care service provider will guide you on how to develop a reliable schedule and a personalized care for your loved one that balances 3 key things:
- Your loved one’s habits and preferences
- Their critical needs based on progression of disease, and their safety
- Your or other family members’ availability, your budget and other considerations.
When designed carefully, a personalized care plan will lead to a solid set of high quality and experienced caregivers that can go across the spectrum of key care needs in an efficient, engaging and personalized way for your loved one’s care needs.
- Your Alzheimer’s Team
Choosing the right in-home care service provider is critical for your loved one’s quality of life. The best practices for Alzheimer’s care clearly recommend a consistent, team based approach which is person centric and personalized for your loved one’s clinical, habitual and progression.
Therefore, your in home care provider and their assigned caregivers need to fit well into your overall Alzheimer’s Team – yourself, other family members, your loved one’s Alzheimer’s doctor, your loved one’s other doctors (e.g. Endocrinologist for Diabetes, or Cardiologist for Hypertension, other CV needs). For example, we at Care Mountain had a patient who was across 2 doctors, an Endocrinologist for diabetes and a Neurologist for mid stage Alzheimer’s and Fibromyalgia. Having their thrice daily reading from the Abbott Libro Patch and sensor was absolutely critical in getting the titration of three diabetes meds and four neuro meds right, and this had to be coordinated across two of our caregivers and two family members all of whom were caregivers in a given 24 hour cycle. This was successfully done via close coordination using the principles of person centric care and coordination with daily charts and logs across multiple caregivers and doctors.
When evaluating a in home care provider for your loved one, talk to the doctor and ask your friends about their experience; contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter; directly ask the company you are considering for references – experienced and high quality companies will not shy away from providing references.
- Your budget
In-home care service providers charge by the hour, per visit or overall a 24 hour cycle. As a simplified planning assumption, we recommend families plan their budgets using $25/hour as an hourly rate assumption and $17/hour for a live in or overnight shift for a high quality and experienced company to provide you services with. Medicare and insurance providers may cover some costs, but they don’t always cover non-medical care. Long term care (LTC) insurance would be a possible route for some families. Once you have a budget in mind, high quality and experienced in home care companies can work with you to develop a schedule in mind that maximizes coverage and range of support activities while balance practical day today considerations like staffing, redundancy, stability of the same caregiver and their proximity from their home to your loved one’s home.
- Stamina – A sprint and a marathon
Making care decisions for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is like a combination of a sprint, a relay race, and a marathon all underway in parallel. Given the progressive and declining nature of your loved one’s condition, you need to solve for the sprinted decision-making right in front of you, while keeping your calm and preserving your stamina knowing fully well that there are more loops in the months and years ahead. As a responsible family member, you need to also take care of yourself and have respite, while keeping the energy and financial resources going to provide care for your loved one across the complex array of doctors, schedules, activities that need to be managed.
Working with experts like us at Care Mountain that have navigated many different combinations of care needs, budgets, complex stages of Alzheimer’s and other co-morbid conditions (e.g. Diabetes) help you access experience and skills to figure out the right decisions while personalizing the care plan
Across the Dallas Fort Worth area, Care Mountain provides award-winning in-home care for people with Alzheimer’s. We are a 5-star rated home health care provider with 16 years of experience providing personalized care for more than 3,000 DFW families.
Give us a call to discuss your needs.