Stay Safe and Happy at Your Home

There are 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

Alzheimer’s 70% of people choose to remain at home. This option has been proven to be healthier, happier, and more effective in helping people live longer. 

Home care is often cheaper than rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes, and can cost as much as $50,000 per year. 

However, cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean easier. Care giving often falls upon the shoulders of friends and family. Experts warn that even the most well-meaning people can become overwhelmed without proper support.

“Care of dementia is the care of two people,” states Johns Hopkins expert Deirdre Johnston. Johnston is M.B. and B.Ch., B.A.O, M.R.C.Psych. Johnston and his team of researchers looked at more than 250 Baltimore with dementia, as well as their caregivers. They found that 97 to 99 percent of them had unmet needs.

It can be overwhelming to keep your loved one happy and safe at home. Don’t despair! There are many resources available for you and your loved one . These are some suggestions that might help:

Psych yourself up.

Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that caregivers who are most positive and upbeat were more likely to not hesitate to get involved with interventions such as communication techniques and environmental modifications. Four months later, caregivers were fully engaged and seeing positive changes in the behavior of their loved ones. Inspiration: More research has shown that close caregiver relationships can be more beneficial for your loved ones than medication.

Equip your home.

It is easy to fix things like grab bars in the bathrooms, carpets that are tacked down to prevent falls, or locked gun cabinets. These simple fixes can help protect against accidents that lead people to nursing homes. Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that over 90% of dementia patients’ safety needs were safety-related in one study. A Johns Hopkins study of 88 dementia patients and their caregivers was published in American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. It found that people with dementia rated their quality of life more highly if they had more navigation or safety support.

Get in touch with a dementia care coordinator.

Johns Hopkins’ Maximizing Independence at Home trial (MIND at Home), found that patients who had contact with a care coordinator at the least once per month for 18 months were 50% less likely to be admitted to an institution or die than those in the control group. Care coordinators can help with safety concerns, medical attention, medication management, legal and advance-care-planning advice, nutrition support and more. Research has shown that around 60% of care coordinators are helpful for loved ones who have other medical conditions.

You might consider moving to a retirement community or 55-and-older community.

Nonslip tubs and other safety features are in place already. Neighbors may have family members in similar situations. You have more financial flexibility. The person with dementia can access more care, while the spouse who is more active can continue to live on the same campus.

Protect your assets.

You might consider enrolling in MedicAlert or the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program ( alz.org /safereturn 888-572-8566), that offer medical ID jewelry and 24-hour assistance for anyone who is lost or wandering off. You can also purchase a medical alert service, such as Life Alert, that will monitor your loved one’s health and notify you if they do not respond.

Get reinforcements.

Adult day care centers offer entertainment, care and breaks for caregivers. Home-care services can also be used to do light housekeeping and cook. Some states offer subsidies for senior meals. Food-delivery services may deliver meals up to twice daily. For resources and contacts, ask your loved one’s doctor. The Alzheimer’s Association ( alz.org and the National 211 Collaborative (211.org) are two good places to begin.

Consider your caregiving a condition.

Many caregivers are constantly in conflict with loved ones over potentially dangerous tasks like driving and cooking. These power struggles add to the mental and physical burden of care. Johnston says that as illness progresses, it is important to focus on the caregiver and not just the management of the symptoms. You should find ways to schedule frequent breaks, respite care, and stress-relief as your mandatory medication.

Definitions

Advance-care Planning: This document is usually a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. These documents will allow your doctors and loved ones to take care of your health and care decisions if you are unable to do so. All adults should be aware of the importance of advance-care planning, regardless if they are elderly or have chronic conditions.

 

Assisted Living: For adults who don’t need nursing care, but still need assistance with daily tasks like dressing, bathing and using the toilet. Many residents require assistance due to mobility, memory problems, or incontinence. The centers offer meals, housekeeping and transportation in a familiar setting.

 

Caregiving – The support that family, friends, and professionals offer to people who are unable or unwilling to take care of themselves. You can help someone get in and out of bed by providing caregiving, such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, personal care, bathing, or personal care.

 

Dementia: Any loss of brain function, which can be caused by many disorders. You may experience forgetfulness, poor judgment and personality changes, emotional instability, and lack of control. Dementia can be caused by Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and poor blood flow to the brain. The majority of forms of dementia can’t be reversed.

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