Authors: Anabelle Harris and Care Mountain

Together, Annabelle and your team at Care Mountain bring to you a thoughtful, simple and effective guide to caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. The journey is not easy but can be effectively navigated and your team at Care Mountain is here to help you every step of the way.

It is a painful and hopeless feeling to watch as a loved one gradually succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia – they turn a beloved relative into someone you don’t recognize. It’s a wrenching experience for an unprecedented number of Americans: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number will soar to 13 million by 2050.

Today, more than 15 million individuals provide care for a family member suffering from the mental decline of Alzheimer’s. In order to be an effective caregiver, it’s important to take good care of oneself and to prepare for the rigors of a responsibility that makes harsh demands, night and day. One of the best things a caregiver can do is learn as much as possible about Alzheimer’s and what’s to be expected as the condition progresses. In providing care, caregivers themselves suffer emotional anguish and the physical wear and tear of ministering to an individual whose condition inevitably and inexorably worsens will take a toll. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that as a caregiver, you take care to provide for your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Here are 3 simple tips to help you take care of your loved one’s care needs:

1.    Self-care plan

It can be easy to neglect your own health and circumstances when devoting so much time to caring for your loved one. Part of being prepared for the responsibilities of caregiving is to establish and follow a self-care plan that ensures you get the support you need from family members and external sources of assistance.

a.    The first thing you need to do is accept that you’ll have to ask for help from time to time.

b.    You also must accept that there’s no reason to feel guilty when you need some time to yourself. It’s to be expected and can only help you be a better caregiver, so be honest with yourself about what you can realistically do and make sure others know how much you need and appreciate their help.

2.    Simplify your surroundings

Safety is the foremost concern for any Alzheimer’s patient. Alzheimer’s affects mental functions, which significantly increases 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. Since dementia and its confusion undermine the individual’s judgment, it’s vital to prepare a space that’s as free as possible of objects that require the Alzheimer’s patient to make too many decisions.

Impaired judgment could easily lead to serious injury. Pieces of furniture, especially those that could be overlooked, should be removed or placed carefully out of the way. Electrical cords need to be stored away or fastened to the wall, and all medications should be securely capped and placed out of reach.

It’s also helpful to install an alarm system if your loved one is prone to wandering. This way, you’ll be alerted immediately if they try to leave your home. Today’s options can even update you on your smartphone, so you can receive alerts no matter where you are.

Remember, part of being a good caregiver is anticipating these and other dangers, a function which should be part of your care plan.

3.    Safe and Easy functionality

The desirable outcome of a successful care environment is a safe and empowering environment, one in which the care subject can easily identify important objects and how to use them. Labels are a good way to help your loved one maintain a semblance of independent activity in safety (note that labels with images often work better than those with words). You may also need to make safety modifications to your kitchen and bathroom. If the types of improvements you’re making require the help of a professional, search “contractors near me” to find reputable Dallas kitchen and bathroom remodelers.

Your care plan should clearly define what your care subject is able to do and what tasks you’ll help them with. Anything that can make your family member feel purposeful and effective is beneficial to all concerned.

As a caregiver, you need to take a comprehensive, holistic and 360 degree approach to care needs. There are a range of care needs on a daily/weekly basis that one needs to track and systematically, compassionately and patiently execute – keeping a checklist helps.

a.    Housekeeping (vacuuming, laundry),

b.    Meal preparation (preparing meals, doing dishes),

c.     Personal hygiene (bathing, toileting),

d.    Companionship and engagement (family respite, board games, music,
social activities),

e.    Medication reminders,

f.      Outings (running errands, doctor appointments, and shopping)

As a caregiver, your relationship with your care subject is a unique one, even more so when they are also a family member – balancing boundaries of being a relative vs a caregiver needs a delicate balancing act. It requires great patience and love in spite of what will sometimes be a difficult situation for you both. With the help and support of other family members, and an understanding of your own limitations, your relatives can enjoy a meaningful life in your care.

Care Mountain offers trusted in home care services to seniors in Dallas Fort Worth. We have served 3000+ families over 16 years! Learn more about how our highly experienced caregivers can help your loved one’s care needs!

Annabelle Harris blogs at Elders.Center. Her goal is to help seniors and soon-to-be-seniors to plan and move gracefully into their golden years with less fear and more confidence.

Picture: Courtesy of Pixabay

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